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Three men involved in credit-for-sex scams have been arrested by the Police.
The Police said in press release that they have received at least 269 reports about credit-for-sex scams in the first five months of 2017.
Victims lost over $762,000 in scams.
In these scams, fraudsters pose as attractive women to befriend male victims through social media platforms such as Wechat.
They would ask the victims to buy online shopping credits or gift cards at AXS machines or convenience stores, in exchange for a meet-up, a date or the promise of sexual service.
The fraudsters would further instruct the victims to send images of the receipts showing the codes of the credits or cards to designated email accounts for the syndicate to claim them.
In some cases, other members of the scam syndicate will also contact the victims to ask for further payments.
The victims end up making multiple payments, however, without meeting the women they have befriended online.
It is only at this point that the victims realised they have been scammed.
Between April and June 2017, the Police said that they received several reports from victims who were told to transfer cash to local bank accounts as deposits, instead of purchasing gift cards or online credits.
Through intensive and swift investigations, the Police arrested three men aged between 24 and 34 in relation to these reports.
They will be charged in court on 11 July 2017 for intentionally assisting a foreign scam syndicate to transfer its benefits from criminal conduct.
Investigations revealed that the three men had helped the syndicate collect cash deposits from the victims in Singapore.
They then used the cash to purchase Alipay credits and iTunes gift cards, which they subsequently transferred to the syndicate via the Internet.
The total amount of criminal proceeds laundered by the trio is at least S$88,000.
The Police have advised taking these steps to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:
• Be wary of strangers who befriend you online and make offers of sexual services
• Do not provide personal details about yourself when engaging other internet users
• Do not share your payment receipts containing details such as PIN numbers with anyone
• If you have any information relating to this scam, call the Police hotline at 1800-255 0000, or dial ‘999’ for urgent Police assistance.
Be especially 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 who allow criminal groups to use their bank accounts could be assisting them to deal with their benefits from criminal conduct.
Anyone found guilty of such money laundering offences may be sentenced to an imprisonment term of up to 10 years, or a fine of up to S$500,000, or both.