SINGAPORE: Five men, aged 19 to 50, are being investigated for their suspected involvement in five cases of sexual services scams, the police said on Saturday (May 8).
Between March and April, the police received several reports from victims who responded to online platforms offering sexual services, but did not receive those services after payments were made.
An islandwide operation was conducted on Monday and Tuesday by officers from the Commercial Affairs Department, supported by police land divisions.
Officers rounded up five men whose bank accounts were allegedly used to receive money from victims of such scams, said the police in a news release.
One of the men is allegedly a victim of a sexual service scam himself.
Preliminary investigations showed that victims usually received unsolicited friend requests from the scammers on social media platforms like Facebook or Tagged.
Victims also befriended the scammers through online listings on classifieds website Locanto and escort service directory Skokka.
The scammers would then chat with the victims on other messaging platforms like Telegram. They would ask the victims for payments before meeting up.
Payments were usually made via bank transfers or mobile applications like PayNow or PayLah, said the police.
In one case where the man under investigation is an alleged victim of a scam, the scammer purportedly requested that he allow his bank account to receive money as well.
The scammer claimed this was to remit money overseas via a remittance agency, citing a family emergency as a reason.
"Unbeknown to the man, the money he received was purportedly from a victim of a sexual service scam as well," said the police.
"By allegedly assisting to receive and transfer money from tainted sources, the men may have acted as money mules and purportedly facilitated money laundering."
The offence of money laundering carries a jail term of up to 10 years, a fine of up to S$500,000 or both.
Investigations are ongoing.
The police reminded members of the public to be wary of friend requests or online listings offering escort, massage or sexual services, as they may be fraudulent in nature.
The public is also reminded not to disclose bank account details to anyone for the purpose of receiving money of unknown origins.
Those with information on such scams can call the police hotline at 1800 255 0000, the anti-scam hotline at 1800 722 6688 or submit it online.