Vice is big money for Russian 'student' in Singapore

A high-class Russian vice ring busted by police last week allegedly advertised sexual services on online sites.
A high-class Russian vice ring busted by police last week allegedly advertised sexual services on online sites.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Part-time call girl who says she's studying English earns about $5k to $11k a week

With her porcelain-smooth skin, sharp features, lively blue eyes and tall, slim physique, 26-year-old Anna from Moscow could have made a living strutting down the catwalk in Russia.

However, the very idea made her laugh. Speaking in near-perfect English, she said "there are too many model-wannabes in Russia who are poorly paid".

Instead, the business graduate, who said she is studying English here, moonlights as a prostitute, charging between $600 an hour and $1,500 for an overnight rendezvous. She said: "It's safe here and you can make good money in a short time. I hope to 'make it' in six months and leave to open a restaurant in Indonesia."

But the heat is on for women like Anna. Last week, the police busted a Russian vice ring and arrested four women - three from Russia and one from Uzbekistan. The syndicate, which police described as a "high-class Russian vice ring", allegedly advertised sexual services on online sites like Yelp, Skokka, Locanto and Backpage.

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This reporter was introduced to Anna by a man familiar with the escort scene, and spoke to her for about an hour in the Orchard area.

Anna said Singapore is an adventure for her. She added that for now, "she believes in trying everything life has to offer".

 
 
  • ICA takes 'serious view' of student-pass abuses

  • Four women - three Russians and an Uzbek - were arrested by the police on May 4 for their alleged involvement in a "high-class" prostitution ring.

    The women, aged between 26 and 39, were said to have valid work permits and had supposedly advertised their $500-an-hour services on at least 10 online platforms.

    Yet, overall figures depict a declining trend of foreign women caught for vice-related activities.

    Last year, 2,947 foreign women were arrested for suspected vice activities, the police told The Sunday Times. In 2015 and 2014, the figures were 4,976 and 4,886 respectively.

    Foreigners like Anna, 26, the Russian escort masquerading as a student, will not be allowed to remain here upon conviction or cancellation of their passes, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) told The Sunday Times.

    A spokesman said: "The ICA takes a serious view of international students who abuse their student's pass status to work illegally or engage in criminal or undesirable activities in Singapore. Those found doing so will have their passes cancelled and may also be charged in court, depending on the nature of the offence."

    In the recent case, a Russian woman, 39, has been charged with three counts of knowingly living in part on the earnings of two foreign prostitutes.

    For each charge, she faces a jail term of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000.

PROFITABLE

It's safe here and you can make good money in a short time. I hope to 'make it' in six months and leave to open a restaurant in Indonesia.

ANNA, a 26-year-old Russian on why she is moonlighting in Singapore as a prostitute.


UNPREDICTABLE

It's always a gamble as you don't know who you're meeting for the night. I have stayed in lavish hotels and sometimes, for quick calls, in budget ones.

ANNA, whose clients are foreigners on business trips and middle-aged locals.

Dressed in a figure-hugging bustier and stilettos, Anna said she decided to leave Moscow because of the cold climate and the low value of the rouble, the Russian currency.

The 1.8m-tall blonde said she has no boyfriend or responsibilities back home, although she does send money to her family, which she describes as neither rich nor poor.

In the last 10 years, the rouble has dropped considerably against the Singapore dollar - $1 is worth 40 roubles today, compared with 17 roubles in 2007.

Anna said her family would like her to be an artist because she has a talent for drawing and painting, butshe said she cannot make a living as an artist in Moscow. Anna has a bubbly personality but gave up trying to make it as a singer in Moscow after several tries.

Her ideal life, she said, is anywhere that has a beach, which is the reason for the location of her dream restaurant. She plans to finance the project with her lucrative work here while staying on as a full-time student.

"I work and live alone here. I have no agent," she said. Before this, she visited Singapore twice on a social visit pass. For the past month, her home has been a $3,000-a-month studio apartment a 10-minute walk from the heart of Orchard Road.

She said she works the ground twice a week by frequenting a few Orchard Road clubs popular with men seeking foreign prostitutes.

In a bad week, she can earn at least $5,000, she said. The highest she made in a week was a little more than $11,000. Her clients are middle-aged Singaporean men and foreigners on business trips.

She said she decided on Singapore because it is a busy tourist and business hub. "It's always a gamble as you don't know who you're meeting for the night. I have stayed in lavish hotels and sometimes, for quick calls, in budget ones," she said.

She added that most Russian escorts who visit Singapore do so as part of a circuit of places like Macau, Dubai and Malaysia. "Some Russian girls come here in groups. If one is caught, the rest will also get into trouble sooner or later."

The women stay in apartments around Kim Keat and Balestier, she said. They are cared for by minders with links to the Russian groups that helped them get to Singapore. The minders take a cut of their incomes.

"They come on social visit passes. They work harder as they need to get more business before their time here runs out," she said.

But being too visible and greedy can be dangerous. "You don't want to attract unwanted attention in this line of work," Anna said. She added that she does not cut classes despite her late-night escapades.

In her spare time, she likes to sing karaoke, she said. During the interview, she played a YouTube music video by a black Russian rapper on her smartphone, and sang along to the rap song.

But before I could ask her any more questions, Anna said my time was up. She thanked me and quickly disappeared in the direction of an Orchard Road nightclub.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 14, 2017, with the headline 'Vice is big money for Russian 'student''. Print Edition | Subscribe