SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Less than two weeks after he was put on probation for other offences, a 17-year-old boy posed as a woman online offering sexual services to cheat men into paying him.
Using pictures of women he found on Instagram, the teenager put up advertisements on sites such as Locanto. When victims responded, he would send them the female persona's bra size, height and weight, and a list of sexual services "she" would not provide, among other things.
The boy, who cannot be named as he is under 18 years of age, pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Nov 10) to four counts of cheating, including one in which he deceived a victim into believing he would sell him a PlayStation 5.
Nine other charges, including two under the Moneylenders Act, will be taken into consideration for his sentencing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Siaw called the sex cheating offences "egregious" as there were more than 10 victims who were cheated of more than S$5,000. DPP Siaw added: "(He) took pains to make the online persona believable."
When asked by District Judge Christopher Goh why he needed to cheat victims, the teenager, who did not have a lawyer, said he had no choice as he had debts from online gambling, and unlicensed moneylenders had threatened him.
"There is always a choice," said the judge, as he ordered probation and reformative training reports to be made.
The court heard that the boy began cheating victims on Nov 15 last year, when he was 16 and serving 21 months' probation, which started on Nov 3, imposed by the Youth Court.
For the sex scam, he quoted prices depending on the nature of the sexual act he purportedly offered. For example, $80 for a nude video, $200 for sex and $500 for overnight sex.
In his messages to victims, he called them "babe" and flirted with them, said the prosecution.
He insisted that his clients transfer some or all of the fees upfront and would then block them. None of them met the boy or received sexual services.
In some cases, he told victims to go to an address and after they reached the location, he asked them to transfer the money before meeting.
To justify the upfront payments, he used various fake excuses such as needing a large deposit to deter undercover police officers posing as customers and needing to pay his landlord urgently.
He also tricked another victim into transferring $1,000 to him by falsely claiming on Carousell he was selling a PlayStation 5.
The boy is expected to be in court next on Nov 17 for sentencing.