4 expensive love and sex-related scams Singaporeans are falling for

In Singapore, the relationship between love and money is a bit too close for comfort. First dates are often filled with excessive talk of careers and income, while a marriage proposal is usually a sign that it's time to pick up the keys to your BTO flat.

It's thus sadly ironic that more and more people here are losing money through love-related scams.

Here are four types of scams hot-blooded Singaporeans need to be wary of.

WeChat hooker scam

Users of WeChat, China's answer to WhatsApp, should know of the "find friends" function. Basically, the device supplies you with a list of random strangers in the vicinity, all of whom are also looking for connections.

You're then free to send messages to whomever you fancy based on their photos-and as expected, "whomever you fancy" usually means nubile young XMMs.

For some reason, WeChat has also become a hotbed of escorts looking for their next customer. What starts out as a harmless text conversation turns steamy when the women reveal that they're offering sexual services, and the men agree to meet them to do the deed.

But before meeting up, the girls ask for money, the most common request being to buy Alipay or iTunes credits. Some men are unsuspecting enough to pay multiple times before realising they've been duped. Usually this story ends with the victim being put in touch with a threatening male, presumably the "agent", who tries to intimidate him into parting with more cash.

Millions have been lost thanks to these WeChat scams. If you're hoping to rely on this app to find your life partner, maybe it's time to switch to Tinder instead.

Watch out for these scams in Singapore

  • WeChat hooker scam

    For some reason, WeChat has become a hotbed of escorts looking for their next customer. What starts out as a harmless text conversation turns steamy when the women reveal that they're offering sexual services, and the men agree to meet them to do the deed.

  • WeChat hooker scam

    But before meeting up, the girls ask for money. Some men are unsuspecting enough to pay multiple times before realising they've been duped.

  • Dating website scam

    Internet love scams in which a wealthy stranger on a dating site builds a relationship with a lonely user, wins their trust and then asks for money are quite common.

  • Nude video extortion scam

    This usually involves men being sent messages by attractive young women who ask them to perform a striptease. They then record the video and tell him that if he doesn't pay them a large sum of money, they'll ruin his reputation by posting it on porn and social media sites.

  • Sham marriage scam

    If you're approached by a foreigner who wants your hand in marriage in order to get a visa and offers you money in exchange, don't think this is an easy way to make money, as the authorities are on the prowl for sham marriages.

  • Sham marriage scam

    Some of these marriages are backed up by meticulous details such as fake wedding photos. But even if the scammer reassures you that he or she will cover all bases, you can never be sure the ICA hasn't been tipped off about his or her shady activities.

  • Scammers, who usually claim to be foreigners, target victims searching for love or friendship on dating websites or social networking sites. After befriending the victims and gaining their trust, scammers ask for monetary help for various reasons. Once the victims have transferred the money, the scammers typically stop contact.
  • This scam typically involves overseas-based female scammers and local male victims. The women befriend their victims and coax them into performing indecent acts in front of the webcam. The process is video-recorded and used to blackmail the victims for money.
  • These criminals pose as lonely individuals seeking companionship and love. After gaining the money mule's trust, the criminal would ask him or her to open new bank accounts or use an existing bank account to receive money.
  • Scammers typically post ads on online sites, selling smart phones, tablets or other gadgets at attractive prices. Victims are told to make advance payments to have the goods “delivered” to them. Of course the goods never comes.
  • Victims receive SMS or phone call notifying them that they have won a lottery or lucky draw. To claim the winnings, they must make an upfront payment, usually for "tax" or "administrative fees".
  • Scammers hack into various email or Facebook accounts to tell the victim's contacts that the account holder has been stranded, robbed or hospitalised in a foreign country and ask victims to send money to help.
  • Victims receive calls claiming that their loved ones have been kidnapped and are asked to transfer money as ransom through a remittance agency.
  • Scammers convince male victims to buy Alipay Purchase Cards in exchange for a meet-up, date or the promise of sexual favours. They typically insist that victims buy the cards through AXS machines before sending images of the receipts along with PIN numbers to claim the credits.
  • Victims are told that their loved ones will experience misfortune and that it can be prevented with a ritual. As part of the ritual, victims are told to place money or jewellery in a plastic bag (which is actually filled with apples, newspapers or rock sugar) which they can only open a few days later, otherwise the ritual would not work.
  • Often, scammers offer to rent vehicles for low prices. Victims are asked to pay deposits or the rental fees before picking up the car. When they arrive to pick up the vehicle, they find that the car rental company does not exist.
  • Culprits pretend to have a housing unit or room(s) to rent. They use high-pressure tactics to encourage their victims to pay the rent in advance. Often, the culprit does not have the authority to rent out the property. Sometimes, the property does not exist.
  • Victims receive calls, letters or emails stating that they have been selected to inherit a large fortune left in a dormant account. To have the funds released to them, victims are asked to transfer money to cover administrative expenses such as taxes and transfer fees.
  • Scammers send out messages to the contact list asking the victims' friends to buy iTunes gift cards on their behalf and promise to pay them back. The victims' friends are then asked to send the redemption codes of the gift cards, over the app by taking a photo of it.
  • Some scammers claim to provide very cheap air tickets, hotels and tour packages through the internet. Victims who engage their services eventually find that their flights, hotels or tour packages were never booked.
  • Once lured into these websites, victims may be deceived into providing their personal information such as user names, passwords and credit card details.
  • Victims receive a phone call telling them that their computers have been found to be experiencing problems and are in need of a security or software update. To get the software and/or update, they must provide their software user account ID and password to the caller. The scammers then use the credit card or bank account details to make fraudulent transfers.

Dating website scam

Just as the mostly male WeChat users have their pretty young girl scammers, lonely females on dating website have their dashing online lovers.

Internet love scams in which a wealthy stranger on a dating site builds a relationship with a lonely user, wins their trust and then asks for money are quite common. These are even more insidious than the WeChat scams since in many cases the hapless victims really do think they're in a relationship with the scammer. Obviously, they're also purportedly handsome and rich.

The scammers then ask to borrow a large sum of cash, just like the Nigerian princes who need help withdrawing their millions. Some ask their victims to participate in bogus investments. Some will claim they're sending a gift to the victim, who will then need to pay the "courier company" some money to retrieve it. Others will be kidnapped or land in hospital and need money to get help.

The amount of money people lose in these scams makes the WeChat scammers look like amateurs. Some people have reportedly lost tens of thousands and one woman even claims to have lost $250,000, according to the National Crime Prevention Council's Scam Alert website.

Nude video extortion scam

This rather steamy scam usually involves men being sent messages by attractive young women on social networking sites. The women will then lead them to believe that they're so attractive that they want them to perform a striptease on Skype.

They then record the video, play it back to the horrified guy and tell him that if he doesn't pay them a large sum of money, they'll ruin his reputation by posting it on porn and social media sites.

One of the scammers who's since been caught was a 17-year-old girl who together with her 22-year-old boyfriend managed to extort close to $100,000 from some poor guy.

Sham marriage

If you're approached by a foreigner who wants your hand in marriage in order to get a visa and offers you money in exchange, don't think this is an easy way to make money, as the authorities are on the prowl for sham marriages.

Some of these marriages are backed up by meticulous details such as fake wedding photos. But even if the scammer reassures you that he or she will cover all bases, you can never be sure the ICA hasn't been tipped off about his or her shady activities.

Details over which you have no control can be a dead giveaway, such as if you're a 65-year-old man and your bride is a 21-year-old Vietnamese girl.

If you're caught, you can be fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to 10 years.

Nine social media scams you should take note of

  • This app appeals to users with the feature to personalize their Facebook colour. But it also leads users to phishing sites and tricks them to share the app with friends. It also uses a tutorial video to trick users to click on an ad. It hijacks users' profile and spams users' friends. It even infects mobile devices with malware.
  • Cybercriminals often use enticing titles like "Not Safe for Work" or "Outrageous" to lure users to click on videos that redirect them to phishing sites and steal their personal information. This scam can also cause malware infection to users' devices, such as Rootkits that are hard to clean.
  • Facebook scams of naked videos usually come in the form of ads or posts with links that take users to sites that host bogus YouTube videos. Such fake sites then prompt users to install an update to fix their "broken" Adobe Flash Player. Once clicked, the fake Flash Player installer will infect the device by installing its malware (usually a Trojan) as a browser plugin. Not only does it steal Facebook photos from users, it also invites their friends to watch the same video, and the ruse continues.
  • Thousands of users worldwide have installed the InstLike app in the hope to boost their Instagram likes and followers. Unfortunately, this app takes advantage of the passwords and other information they collect from users to boost their own growth, spreading the infection even further. Despite being reported, unwitting users are still being duped by InstLike as it continues to be in business.
  • Apps that promise instant Twitter followers usually cause users' to fall victim to scammers, who leverage user accounts for further spamming and attacks.
  • Some scams send messages like "Just saw this photo of you" to trick users into clicking the malicious links in the messages. The scam can hijack users' Twitter accounts and send their friends further spam messages, luring them to phishing sites that steal personal information.
  • The Tumblr Dating Game has lured many users to click the links in its messages and make them create dating accounts, which only lead them to ads or adult pages that generate revenue for the scammer.
  • Scammers post bogus pins that advertise free giveaways to lure users to false surveys or phishing sites. It also spams their followers to further expand their attack.


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