SINGAPORE - Twenty victims of credit-for-sex scams have been penalised for flouting circuit breaker measures as they had left their residences to procure sexual services, a non-essential activity.
The victims procured these sexual services by leaving their homes to buy gift cards or to make payment at AXS machines and were each issued a composition sum of $300 for flouting safe distancing regulations under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations, the police said in a statement on Thursday (April 30).
Between April 18 and 29 this year, the police received separate reports from at least 20 male victims, aged between 18 and 52, that they had fallen prey to credit-for-sex scams.
In total, the victims were cheated of more than $50,000.
In most cases, the victims had befriended the scammers or searched for sexual services through online applications such as WeChat, Tinder and Michat, or websites such as Locanto and Skokka.
There were also instances where scammers would proactively approach the victims through these online applications or websites to offer sexual services. The victims were then instructed to either make advance payments via AliPay credits at AXS machines or buy iTunes or Google Play gift cards and send over the redemption codes in exchange for the sexual services.
The scammers then became uncontactable after the advance payments were made.
In the first three months of the year, the police received 237 reports of credit-for-sex scams, with more than $613,000 cheated. The number of cases reported increased by 40.2 per cent and the total amount cheated increased by more than $211,000 when compared with the same period in 2019.
The police advised the public to be wary of friend requests or online listings offering escort, massage or sexual services as they may be fraudulent in nature.
Police said scammers may employ scare tactics to threaten victims into making more payments. They urged the public not to accede to the scammers' demands or give out personal details such as their credit card information.
They added that people should take the circuit breaker measures seriously, and avoid going out during this period.
Those in doubt or have information related to credit-for-sex crimes can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or visit this website.
People who need urgent police assistance can call 999.
To get scam-related advice, the public can call the anti-scam helpline on 1800-722-6688 or visit this website.
Members of the public can also join the "Let's fight scams" campaign by signing up to receive up-to-date messages and share them with their family and friends.