Online vice-ring pimp who made $1m in profits over 5 years convicted of vice offences

Online vice-ring pimp Chew Tiong Wei was convicted for various offences on Dec 7, 2015.
Online vice-ring pimp Chew Tiong Wei was convicted for various offences on Dec 7, 2015.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A 38-year-old online vice-ring pimp who received nearly $2.6 million in revenue and earned a profit of about $1 million over five years was convicted of various offences on Monday, in one of the largest online vice-ring cases.

Chew Tiong Wei pleaded guilty to 28 charges in all, with another 73 charges to be taken into consideration during his sentencing on Jan 13.

Chew's vice-ring involved at least 22 prostitutes, 11 of whom were below age 18 at the time of the offences. The youngest was 15.

He would also engage in commercial sex with the females who were under 18 years old before prostituting them. Chew's reason was they needed to get used to the "whole feel" of dealing with customers, and he would also provide pointers and feedback on their sexual performance.

A district court heard that Chew first set up his vice business in mid-2007, and operated until he was arrested by anti-vice police in his Golden Landmark office in Dec last year.

His modus operandi was to take out advertisements to recruit female "social escorts" in newspapers daily, except on Sundays.

Interested women would contact Chew on his listed mobile number, and he would meet them for an interview.

After an applicant agreed to provide sexual services, Chew would arrange for a photo-shoot of her in scantily-clad clothes and in provocative poses. Naked photos would also be taken if she gave her consent.

He would then post a profile of the "social escort" on an online forum, with a price which he determined based on a discussion with her and his own assessment of her "quality".

The prices of the prostitutes ranged from $200 to $1,000.

From 2007 till 2008, Chew earned somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 by acting as a middleman between the prostitutes and their customers, taking a 40 per cent cut of the escorts' earnings.

In January 2010, due to increasing profits, Chew created his own website for his illicit business. He registered his agency, Prestige Talents Management, with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, as a sole-proprietorship providing "social escort services".

He paid $8,000 to a company to design a logo and set up a website for his business. He also paid $12,000 to another company to set up a customised database system, based on SMS messages he sent and received, for his vice business.

In 2012, Chew also got the digital company he had earlier engaged to create another website for his business.

Based on the database system's records, Chew received a revenue of over $2.5 million between January 2010 and December 2014. After deducting the payment to the escorts and operating expenses, he earned just over $1 million during the five-year period.

Chew also admitted to five counts of making obscene films of himself having sex with prostitutes in his home, unbeknownst to them.

He pleaded guilty to evading tax by under-declaring his profit for the year of assessment 2012 in his income tax return. He declared his profit to be $40,166, when it was actually $175,779. The tax undercharged amounted to $15,118.25.

He also declared his profit for the year of assessment 2013 to be $20,345, when it was actually $160,417. The tax undercharged amounted to $11,846.40.

In April last year, Chew also submitted a Productivity and Innovation Credit cash payout application form for purchasing a $15,000 software. In the form, he declared that he had met the conditions of employing and making CPF contributions for at least three local employees, and provided the particulars of his father, mother and wife.

They were never employed by Chew, but he had made CPF contributions into their accounts. Chew later obtained a PIC cash payout of $9,000 and a PIC bonus of $15,000.

amirh@sph.com.sg