More than $389,000 lost to sex scammers from January to March: Police

The victims were persuaded to buy gift cards and online shopping credits at AXS machines or convenience stores, and send images of the receipts to the scammers, along with PIN numbers.
The victims were persuaded to buy gift cards and online shopping credits at AXS machines or convenience stores, and send images of the receipts to the scammers, along with PIN numbers.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The police received at least 164 reports of sex scams which caused more than $389,000 to be lost to scammers from Jan to March this year, it said in a statement released Wednesday.

These scams involve scammers befriending male victims through social media platforms, such as Wechat, and then asking them to buy gift cards or online shopping credits in exchange for a meet-up, date or the promise of sexual service.

Eventually, the victims will be persuaded to buy the cards and credits at AXS machines or convenience stores and send images of the receipts to the scammers, along with PIN numbers.

"The victims never get to meet the women whom they befriend online," said the statement.

It does not end there, as other members of the scam syndicates can contact the victim to ask for further payment.

In another variant of the scam, victims will be told to transfer cash to a local bank account as a deposit, instead of purchasing gift cards or online credits, the police said. One such report was received this month.

On Tuesday (Apr 11), a 25-year-old man was arrested by officers from the Commercial Affairs Department for allegedly assisting a foreign scam syndicate by receiving and transferring criminal gains, said the police.

Anyone found guilty of money laundering offences can be jailed for 10 years or fined $500,000, or both.

To avoid becoming a victim of credit-for-sex scams, the police have issued the following advisory:

• Be wary of strangers who befriend you online and make offers of sexual services

• Do not provide personal details about yourself when engaging with other internet users

• Do not share your payment receipts containing details such as PIN numbers with anyone

• Be wary when strangers ask to use your bank account to receive money from unknown sources, or to pass money to someone else through your account.

Those with information about sex scams can contact the police at 1800-255 0000, or dial '999' for urgent police assistance.