SINGAPORE, May 20 — After putting up bogus advertisements for sexual services using pictures of girls he downloaded from the internet, a teenager would collect payment from interested parties then break contact with them, eventually earning more than S$30,000 (RM95,510) this way.

For his crimes, the teenager, who is now 18, was sentenced to 18 months’ probation, a court heard on Wednesday (May 18).

The teenager cannot be named by law because he committed the offences before he turned 18, according to the Children and Young Persons Act.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of acquiring benefits of criminal conduct and one count each of cheating, voluntarily causing hurt and giving false information to a public servant.

Nine other charges were taken into consideration for sentencing, including being a member of the Pak Hai Tong triad society and trespassing Greenridge Primary School past midnight in 2019 to play basketball.

The court heard that the youth had operated the sex scams with another man.

The other man, who is now 20 and not identified in court documents, was sentenced by the court last year to 24 months’ split probation for three counts of cheating, as well as five other offences including rioting and extortion.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ben Mathias Tan said that the youth would post fake advertisements advertising sexual services on online classified advertisements site Locanto.

He would then use an overseas phone number to communicate with victims on the Telegram mobile application using fake names such as “Felicia” to offer a range of purported sexual services at various prices.

In order to evade detection from the police, he arranged with at least five other people to have them receive the proceeds of his sex scams using their bank accounts.

The scam took place between late 2019 and the middle of 2020.

When providing a statement to a police officer in Feb 2020, the teenager said that he would receive messages from one “Jeremy Chong” on Telegram, who would ask him to withdraw money from his bank account on his behalf and that Chong would give him a cut of the amount.

The police office then began investigations into Chong and recorded a statement from him the next month. DPP Tan said that this was much to Chong’s annoyance since he was not involved in the teenager’s illicit activities.

The teenager later admitted in May that year that he had lied about Chong’s involvement. Court documents did not state whether the two of them were acquainted.

Separately, on March 2020, the teenager punched the face of a man who got into an argument with the teenager’s friend at the SuperBowl Keat Hong bowling alley in Chua Chu Kang.

On Wednesday, the teenager’s lawyer V Ramesh told the court his client “fully recognises that his cavalier attitude was wrong”.

The lawyer added that the teenager has since become more mature and that he has a child, who is about 18 months old, with his partner.

As part of the youth’s probation conditions, he must remain indoors from 10pm to 6am, perform 80 hours of community service and attend psychological and psychiatric treatment as required.

For acquiring the benefits of criminal conduct, he could have been fined up to S$500,000 or jailed up to 10 years, or both.

For cheating, he could have been jailed up to 10 years and be liable to a fine.

For giving false information to a public servant, he could have been jailed up to two years or fined, or both. — TODAY