Police bust online love syndicate, victims lost over $100,000

SINGAPORE: Police have busted an online syndicate which extorted at least $100,000 from unsuspecting individuals looking for love.

The case arose when a 22—year—old man lodged a police report on Sunday, alleging that he was a victim of extortion.

Initial investigations reveal that the man had befriended a woman in May last year, via an Internet chat room.

Both engaged in webcam conversations which led to the woman persuading the victim to appear naked in front of the webcam.

Unknown to the victim, the woman had recorded the footage. She then threatened to circulate the footage online if the victim did not transfer money to her.

The man complied and this went on for nine months, with several other suspects entering the fray.

In all, the man made over 80 transactions, amounting to at least $97,000 to various bank accounts provided by the suspects.

The suspects, three men and three women, aged between 17 and 47, were arrested on separate occasions on Tuesday.

The first arrest of four suspects was made at about 4am at a unit in Block 32 at Marsiling Drive.

The other two suspects were arrested later at 3.30 pm in the vicinity of Ang Mo Kio.

It has been revealed that at least four other victims were conned, with the suspects receiving a total of at least $100,000.

Two of the suspects, a 22—year—old man and a 17—year—old woman, will be charged in Court on Wednesday for an offence of Extortion with Common Intention. Investigations are still on—going for the remaining suspects.

If convicted, the suspects could be jailed up to seven years and caned.

Police gave this advice.

DSP Aileen Yap, Deputy Head of Investigation at Ang Mo Kio Police Division, said: "Exercise caution when dealing with unknown people over the internet. Do not accede to any request that may put yourself in a vulnerable position such as performing compromising acts in front of the webcam."

— CNA/de