Hundreds of local men fell for sex scam and lost thousands

Hundreds of local men fell for sex scam and lost thousands

He agreed to meet Feifei, a prostitute, because her rates were cheaper than those at Geylang.

But instead of saving money, he was cheated of more than $200.

John (not his real name), 26, is one of more than 200 men here who have fallen prey to the latest scam - the credit-for-sex scam.

But John can consider himself fortunate to have lost just $200. One victim last month lost $35,000.

The ruse involves scammers, who claim to be young and attractive women on social media, enticing men to buy online credit for them in exchange for sexual favours.

The credit is mostly in the form of Alipay Purchase Cards, available at AXS machines, though some victims have paid with iTunes cards.

Alipay is a third-party online payment platform similar to PayPal and its credit can be used only on Chinese retail websites Taobao and Tmall.

The victims register the cards with the scammer's e-mail address, giving the latter free use of the shopping credit stored in the card.

The victims invariably never get to meet the "women", let alone have sex with them.

All they get to see are photographs, which are most likely fake.

For John, it started last Thursday, when he chanced upon a picture of a woman named Feifei on Chinese website Baidu.

Attracted by her looks, he added her on WeChat, a Chinese messaging service, and they began chatting.

STUDYING

John, who has had a girlfriend for two years, told The New Paper yesterday: "She said she was from Sichuan (in south-west China) and was studying in a university here.

"She also told me that she was a prostitute and asked if I was interested."

The delivery driver rejected her advances as he was tired after work.

But they continued chatting over the next two days, with Feifei calling him "darling" and sending him sexy photos.

When she offered her services on Saturday, John agreed.

"I was working half-day on Saturday and she was cheaper than the prostitutes in Geylang - $100 for two hours and $200 for overnight and unlimited," he said.

They were to meet at Block 728, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6, but when John arrived, she was nowhere in sight.

Instead, she instructed him over WeChat to buy an Alipay card at a nearby AXS machine.

"I didn't think it was a scam. She told me it was safer to pay using the card than with cash," he said.

John bought a RMB500 ($110) Alipay card and registered it using her e-mail.

Soon after, a man claiming to be Feifei's boss called him and asked for an additional $1,000.

John said: "He was polite and had a Chinese accent. He said the money was a deposit to ensure Feifei's safety and promised I would get it back."

When John told him he could not pay such a huge sum, the man got angry.

"He demanded more money and started scaring me by saying he had gangster connections which could track down my address.

"When I threatened to call the police, he said he had friends high up in the force who could protect him." Out of fear, John bought another RMB500 Alipay card using Feifei's e-mail.

"I was very afraid the boss might do something to me. And since I was already there, I wanted to pay and meet Feifei."

But he never heard from the boss or Feifei again. Later that night, Feifei blocked John on WeChat.

He said: "I feel so angry that I paid $200 and no one showed up. I scolded myself for being so stupid and lustful."

He has shared his story on the National Crime Prevention Council website, where more than 20 men have come forward with similar experiences.

They are among the 249 men who have fallen for the credit-for-sex scam up to March since it surfaced last year.

Last month alone, 141 victims lost more than $300,000.

John wants to put this episode behind him.

"I won't be so gullible and try to meet up with strangers any more. I hope my girlfriend never finds out."

Next page: NS man thought he was going on a date

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