SINGAPORE: Instead of taking heed of a website advisory warning users against scammers plying purported sexual services and pornographic videos, a polytechnic student took inspiration instead and became such a scammer himself.
Lee Chao Hunt, 19, on Monday (Jan 28) pleaded guilty to five counts of cheating men into giving him money by posing as a sex worker, with another 12 similar charges taken into consideration for sentencing.
The Temasek Polytechnic student came across the advisory in 2016 on online classified ads site Locanto.com, where he had set up an account to meet romantic partners.
The advisory cautioned users against falling for scams that claimed to offer the sale of pornographic videos and sexual services.
After reading the advisory, Lee decided to carry out such a scam and created two Locanto accounts under the usernames jessss98 and Liyiingxxxx in December 2016, court documents showed.
He used those accounts to advertise that he was looking for "friends with benefits" and expected to be paid.
More than 10 men responded to his advertisements. Lee directed them to mobile messaging application WeChat, where he continued to chat with the victims under his female pseudonyms.
He told the victims that he would send pornographic videos of "herself" having sex, and in some cases, promised to meet the victims for sex.
He used those promises to lure them into transferring between S$150 to S$200 each to his bank account.
The victims followed Lee's instructions and transferred money to him, before sending him photos of the transaction slips on WeChat as confirmation.
In this way, Lee collected S$3,200 from 16 men between June 2017 and November 2017.
After receiving the money, Lee would mute and delete the WeChat conversations from his phone.
The police began investigating Lee after a report from a victim and froze his POSB bank account on Dec 1, 2017.
Lee had tried to destroy the evidence from his phone after he realised he was unable to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine, court documents showed.
He later admitted that he had spent the money he cheated from the men on cigarettes, alcohol, clothes, and weekends at nightclubs.
He returned the money to the 16 men in November last year, admitting that he deliberately cheated them because he "wanted this lifestyle but could not afford it", Deputy Public Prosecutor Michelle Tay said.
District Judge May Mesenas called for a probation suitability report and adjourned sentencing to next month.