Youth posed online as female sex workers, cheated 16 men

A male teenager went online and pretended to be two different female sex workers, duping 16 men of $3,200 when they tried to engage the women's services.

Polytechnic student Lee Chao Hunt, 19, pleaded guilty in court yesterday to five cheating charges. They involve five victims who had transferred over $1,000 in all.

The remaining 12 charges involving 11 other men and an additional $2,200 will be 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 an advisory, warning users of 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, and pretended to be female sex workers.

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

 
 
 

While browsing the Locanto website, the victims came across these advertisements and contacted the teenager via the portal's messaging platform.

DPP Tay said: "The accused lied to each of the victims that he was female. Using the fictitious personas of Jess or Alicia, the accused promised the victims that he would meet the victims to have sexual intercourse.

"In some instances, the accused also promised to send the victim pornographic videos of the fictitious Jess or Alicia having sexual intercourse with another person."

Lee made these promises on the condition that the victims transfer a sum of $200 to his bank account. The men did as they were told, the court heard.

After receiving the money, Lee ignored their messages and skipped meetings he had arranged with them.

The DPP told District Judge May Mesenas: "In some instances, the accused would send the victims 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 has made a full restitution to all 16 victims on Nov 14 last year.

Judge Mesenas has called for a report to assess his suitability for probation. He is now out on bail of $15,000 and will be back in court on Feb 25.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 29, 2019, with the headline 'Youth posed online as female sex workers, cheated 16 men'. Print Edition | Subscribe