Alexander Soh Zhi Ren, 22, had befriended his male victims on an Internet chatroom. He coaxed them to strip for him in front of their webcams and recorded their indecent exposure, using the recordings to blackmail them.
A 17-year-old boy stripped after a girl told him she would have sex with him, and a 35-year-old man did the same in exchange for a picture of her in a bikini. But they did not realise that the girl was actually a man who took videos of their private parts and blackmailed them.
Soh then demanded money from his victims by threatening to post the videos on websites like YouTube and STOMP unless they paid him. Out of fear, his two victims complied and Soh received a total of $6,700 from them.
Yesterday (July 4), Soh pleaded guilty to 10 charges, of which four were for extortion and attempted extortion.
He also enlisted the aid of his girlfriend Yap Siew Ting, 17, to take part in the online scam. Between February and May 2011, the couple managed to extort $97,350 from just one victim. They also attempted to extort $19,000 from three other men.
Like her boyfriend, Yap had also gone to internet chatrooms to entice men to strip for her during their webcam conversations. Yap has been placed on two years’ supervised probation and has to perform 130 hours of community service. Her mother also had to sign a $5,000 bond to ensure her good behaviour.
Court papers stated that at about 4pm on Feb 9, Soh, identified himself as a 17-year-old girl named Jia Ling and befriended a 17-year-old student in the chatroom. During their chat, Soh began talking to the boy about sex.
He asked to see his face and the boy switched on his webcam. Soh then promised to have sex with the victim if he exposed his private parts. The victim undressed himself, which was recorded by Soh.
He then sent the video to the victim and demanded money in exchange for not posting it on websites like YouTube and Stomp. The boy complied and transferred $1,700 via ATM to Soh’s POSB bank account.
Throughout the exchange, he had no idea that Soh was not a girl as he had claimed. Soh later extorted a total of $5,000 over four occasions from a 35-year-old man who had also exposed himself to Soh.
Soh said in his mitigation plea that he was unable to make restitution to his victims as he had been in remand since he was arrested on Feb 28. He said: “I was transferred from Ang Mo Kio Police Division to Changi Prison and I did not receive any visits from my family and friends. Hence, I was unable to get them to make restitution to the victims.”
Deputy Public Prosecutor Darryl Soh asked the judge for a custodial sentence of at least four years’ jail. He highlighted that the amount extorted by Soh was significant and that there were six victims involved.
DPP Soh added that the accused had the deliberate intention to deceive by posing online as a female. Soh had claimed that he was suffering from depression, but there was no medical report to support his claim, he said.
When asked where all the money had gone, DPP Soh said that Soh had splurged it on expensive dining and on shopping and clubbing with his friends.
When the judge asked Soh if this was true, he said yes. Soh also faced four charges of theft and dishonestly disposing of stolen goods. Between August and September in 2009,
Soh and three friends went on a shoplifting spree on Orchard Road.
The stolen items included Louis Vuitton wallets, handbags, diary cover, luggage and Gucci wallets. The total value of the items amounted to $13,300. Soh also faced a forgery charge for forging two authorised signatures on a cheque he had stolen and cashed for $500. He was also charged for being absent from National Service for more than 18 months.
Soh will be sentenced on July 13.