Singapore

Man linked to vice website charged in court

A man suspected of involvement with vice website Laksaboy was charged in court on Saturday (July 22) after being nabbed in a police raid last Thursday night.

Saw Yan Long, 29, was charged under the Women's Charter with living in part off the earnings of a 39-year-old Thai prostitute between June 29 and July 19.

If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $10,000.

Prosecutors said Saw, a Singaporean, is suspected of being involved in a multinational online vice ring.

Saw is the first of 21 people nabbed in last Thursday's raid to be charged. The police operation picked up five men and 16 women aged between 22 and 57.

Among those arrested are the suspected operators of Laksaboy, which hosted 22 "banners" of female escorts of various nationalities advertising sexual services, said the police.

The banners are believed to be owned by various vice syndicates, and the Laksaboy site has been taken down.

Two vice syndicates were also crippled during the 12-hour raid carried out by the Criminal Investigation Department.

The Sunday Times understands that Saw was involved in one of those syndicates.

Saw's case will be heard in court again on July 28.

Besides Laksaboy, vice website Sammyboy forum has also stirred controversy with discussions on sexual topics and submissions from netizens of lurid photos such as upskirt pictures of women.

This is not the first time that the police have cracked down on vice activities online.

Earlier this year, four foreign women believed to be from a Russian vice ring were arrested by the police after a raid.

Preliminary investigations showed the syndicate had been advertising high-class escort services on at least 10 different online platforms, including Backpage, Skokka and Yelp.

And in 2015, a 38-year-old online vice-ring pimp who had earned a profit of about $1 million over five years was convicted of various crimes.

He had created a website for his illicit business and received revenue of more than $2.5 million during the five years.

Police busts of such online vice activities are enabled by the use of technology, said criminal lawyer Amarick Gill.

Speaking about the Laksaboy website, he said: "This forum has been online for quite a while, and it's obvious that the police are using new technology to track them down."

Added criminal lawyer Josephus Tan: "A lot of criminal activities are going online and it's no surprise that the vice trade has gone online as well...

"I think the authorities are aware of this and have been stepping up enforcement."

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