SINGAPORE - At least 209 victims have fallen prey to credit-for-sex scams since January this year, with total losses amounting to at least $402,000.
In an advisory on Monday (May 23), the police said scammers would befriend victims online and offer sexual services before asking for upfront payment via gift cards sold at convenience stores.
Victims would typically come across advertisements offering sexual services on social media, dating platforms or websites such as Locanto.
In some cases, the swindlers would contact the victims through messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Telegram, MiChat and WeChat.
After making arrangements to receive the sexual services, the victims would be told to make advance payment via game credits at AXS machines or the purchase of gift cards.
The crooks would provide e-mail addresses for the victims to buy the game credits for, or ask the victims to reveal the activation codes for the gift cards, in exchange for the sexual services.
In some cases, the scammers would demand additional payment or a "protection fee" and threaten to harass or hurt the victims and their family members if they did not comply.
Victims would realise they had been cheated only when no one showed up at the meeting point and the other party became uncontactable after payments were made, or when they lodged a police report after being threatened by the scammer.
The police advise the public to be wary of online friend requests and online listings offering escort, massage or sexual services.
"Scammers may employ scare tactics to threaten victims into making more payments," the police said. "Remain calm and do not accede to their requests."
The public should also not provide the activation codes for gift cards or send game credits to people they do not know or have not met in person.
To report such crimes, the public can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or submit information here.
For more details about scams, visit this website or call the anti-scam hotline on 1800-722-6688.