Singapore woman pretended to be a man, extorted 'girlfriend' over nude photos

She had used a voice-changing app to make her voice sound like a man's

WhatsApp app logo and a hand holding a mobile phone.
The woman, who had pretended to be a man, started flirting with the victim over WhatsApp. (Images: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE - A 23-year-old woman pretended to be a man and got her 'girlfriend' to send nude pictures and videos, then later used those pictures to extort money from her.

According to The Straits Times, Janelle Phang Minxuan committed the crime under the alias 'Leon Ho Kai Jun'.

She was sentenced a four months' jail term on Monday (30 January) after pleading guilty to one charge each of cheating and criminal intimidation.

A gag order was issued by the court to protect the identity of the victim.

In addition to the extortion, Phang also deceived the victim into buying food and game credits for her, which the victim initially paid for using her own money, but later had to borrow from her father and sister.

The victim also had to pay $1,566 to her employer, after Phang made her quit her job without notice.

In total, the victim lost at least $4,705.64, the court was told.

Voice-changing app and WhatsApp used for communication

According to the report, Phang first started flirting with the victim in Sept 2020, whom she had met on the dating app Heymandi.

The pair would communicate daily on the messaging service WhatsApp, with Phang using a voice-changing app to make her voice messages sound like a man's as part of the ruse.

She had also used a man's photograph as her profile picture on both WhatsApp and Instagram, telling the victim that 'Leon' would care for her if 'he' was the only man in her life.

According to Deputy Public Prosecutor Shen Wanqin, Phang's plan was to deceive the victim, play with her feelings and get her to believe that she had fallen in love with 'Leon'.

The victim confessed her romantic feelings for 'Leon' in October 2020, and became 'his girlfriend' in November that year.

Despite initially promising to spend time in-person, Phang would later come up with various excuses not to meet.

For the purpose of extortion, Phang had asked the victim to prove her love by sending her nude pictures and videos over WhatsApp, but the victim expressed her discomfort as they had yet to meet in person.

In February 2021, after repeated requests, the victim was pressured into sending two photos of her in underwear, followed by two nude videos over Instagram.

Phang later attempted to extort $1,000 from the victim in May 2021 by threatening to post the photos and images online and sending them to people who knew the victim.

This led to the victim officially blocking 'Leon' on social media.

She would later make a police report that a person known to her only as 'Leon' had threatened to distribute her nude photos.

The police then managed to establish Phang’s identity and arrested her at her home.

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