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It starts off with these scammers provocatively befriending victims or offering sexual services online.
Hooked? Well, there's a catch: victims are asked to make payment or purchase gift cards first.
Once they did as instructed, the scammers went missing in action, leaving victims dry and high.
In a news release on Thursday (Feb 21), the police warned the public about scams involving payment for sexual services, of which credit-for-sex scams are the predominant variant.
According to the police, there were at least 1,065 reports of credit-for-sex scams in 2019, with total losses amounting to at least $2.8 million. The largest sum cheated in a single case was $80,000.
"Victims typically befriended the scammers or searched for sexual services through online applications such as WeChat, Tinder and Michat, or websites such as Locanto and Skokka," said police.
"In some cases, scammers would proactively approach the victims through these online applications or websites.
"The victims were instructed to either make payment via AliPay credits at AXS machines, or purchase iTunes or Google Play gift cards, in exchange for the services."
"Victims did not receive the services and the scammers became uncontactable after the payments were made."
In another variant of such scams, victims would make payments via bank transfer, including via 'Paynow' or 'Paylah', or through remittance services such as Western Union.
Members of the public are advised to adopt the following crime prevention measures:
Be wary of friend requests or online listings offering escort, massage or sexual services as they may be fraudulent in nature.
Scammers may employ scare tactics to threaten victims into making more payments. Remain calm and do not accede to their requests.
Do not give out your personal details such as your credit card information freely.
Those who wish to provide any information relating to such cases can call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.
For urgent police assistance, please dial '999'.
You may also call the anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or visit www.scamalert.sg to seek scam-related advice.