Man jailed two months for threatening to circulate compromising photos of woman

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
File photo of an iPhone: AFP

After borrowing money more than $8,000 from a friend, he tried to extort money from her by lying that an employee from a handphone repair shop had found compromising photos of her in his phone.

The man, 35, was jailed two months on Wednesday (8 November) after he admitted to one count of criminal intimidation with the intention of injuring the woman’s reputation.

The man and the 31-year-old woman became friends sometime on 9 April 2016. They exchanged contact details and started messaging each other from thereon and met face to face in July 2016. Between April and July that year, the man borrowed money totalling $8,150 from the woman on multiple occasions.

In May this year, the woman took selfies of her face and upper body clad only in a bra and sent them to the man. She sent some 20 revealing photos and a video even though she ensured that her private parts were always covered.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Zulhafni Zulkeflee said that the woman sent her photos to the man as she believed that he had sincere feelings for her. The woman, however, realised that the man only contacted her when he needed money, and decided to disassociate herself from him and asked for her money back, said the DPP. Only $150 has been returned to the woman.

On 12 August this year, at around 9.21am, the man texted the woman, telling her that he had sent his handphone for repair and that a repair shop employee had found her compromising pictures. The man claimed that the employee demanded a payment of $2,000, failing which he would upload the photos and video online.

The man insisted that the money be transferred to his own bank account and refused to provide the employee’s account number. He told the woman that the employee declined to talk to or meet up with her.

He pressured the woman to send the money, insisting that the employee would post the photos. The woman later negotiated for an initial deposit of $200 to be transferred to the account. Fearing that the threat would be carried out, the woman made a police report. The man was arrested on 16 August 2017.

Investigations later revealed that the man had fabricated the story about the employee. By that time, the man had used $130 out of the $200 transferred to him by the woman. The remaining sum of $70 was surrendered to the police.

The prosecution asked for at least two months’ jail, saying that the man’s threat to circulate the photos was “nothing minor”. The man, who was unrepresented, said that he regretted his actions and pleaded for leniency.

District Judge Wong Li Tein said that the man had committed the offence out of greed, even after he had received more than $8,000 from the woman. He had extorted the money for personal gain, she said. For criminal intimidation, the man could have been jailed two years and/or fined.

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