Probation for student who posed as prostitutes online to cheat 16 men of $3,200

SINGAPORE - A polytechnic student managed to dupe 16 men out of a total of $3,200 by posing as prostitutes on the Internet.

Lee Chao Hunt created online personas with the names "Jess" and "Alicia", offering sex for $200 a time - but once the men transferred the money to his bank account, they found the women never showed up.

The 19-year-old was sentenced to 18 months' probation on Monday (Feb 25).

As part of his sentence, he must perform 180 hours of community service and has to remain indoors from 10pm to 6am every day. His mother and sister were also bonded for $5,000 to ensure his good behaviour.

Lee pleaded guilty last month to five cheating charges involving five victims who had transferred more than $1,000 in all.

The remaining 12 charges linked to 11 other men and an additional $2,200 were considered during sentencing. One man was cheated twice.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Michelle Tay said that in 2016, Lee created an account on online classified advertisement network Locanto to meet "potential romantic interests".

While browsing the site, he came across a warning about scams involving netizens who pretended to offer sexual services and sell pornographic videos.

He then planned a similar ruse and created two other Locanto accounts from December that year, which he used to pose as female sex workers.

Lee created advertisements and offered sexual services in exchange for cash.

After receiving the money from his victims, Lee ignored their messages.

DPP Tay told District Judge May Mesenas: "In some instances, the accused would send the victims the fake pornographic videos and pass them off as being videos of the fictitious Jess or Alicia. However, the accused never delivered on the sexual services he promised to all the victims."

Court documents did not state how his offences came to light but his bank account was frozen by Dec 1, 2017, when the police conducted their investigation.

Lee later admitted that he had spent his ill-gotten gains on items such as cigarettes and clothes. He made full restitution to all 16 victims on Nov 14 last year.