Malaysia bars Sugarbook dating service – ‘where romance meets finance’

Sugarbook app Malaysia
Sugarbook app image from website

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian police said on Thursday they had questioned the founder of a dating application being probed for suspected exploitation for prostitution, after complaints over its claim that thousands of university students had signed up as “sugarbabies”.

Police said the unidentified 34-year-old man was detained for questioning in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, after they had received at least 74 complaints against online dating service Sugarbook.

On its website, Sugarbook describes itself as an “industry leader in luxury dating”, providing a platform “for modern relationships to form and grow”.

“In our preliminary investigations, the suspect admitted to being the founder of the application Sugarbook,” Selangor state criminal investigations chief Fadzil Ahmat told Reuters.

In a post that went viral last week, Sugarbook claimed that thousands of students from top private and public universities had joined the app as “sugarbabies”.

Sugarbook did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Malaysia’s internet regulator earlier this week barred Sugarbook’s website on local networks, according to news reports, after it advised users to be vigilant about potential scams and data breaches on Sugarbook and any other dating apps.

Sugarbook’s slogan is “where romance meets finance” and it defines a “sugar relationship” as one “where both parties define what they want in a relationship in exchange for financial support.”

In a post on its website, Sugarbook founder and chief executive, identified only as Darren C, said the service was a social networking platform that “builds beneficial relationships with our society’s elite”.

Police did not say if the person detained was the same Darren C. Sugarbook is also being investigated for statements that could cause “public mischief”, and misuse of network facilities or services.

National news agency Bernama on Thursday reported the high court had denied a police request to further detain the suspect, saying it was satisfied he would cooperate fully.

(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Martin Petty)

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