Fake cop extorted money from foreigners

Two years' jail for Indian national who targeted courting couples in park

A construction worker from India passed himself off as a cop and extorted money from couples engaging in intimate acts in a park here.

He even tried to gain sexual favours from one victim on top of asking her for $500. He pretended to have photographs and videos of her with an unknown man, but she did not fall for his ruse.

Yesterday, Selvam Pandiarajan, 27, was given two years' jail for extorting more than $2,500 from foreigners here over nearly two years. He pleaded guilty to eight charges of cheating.

He also admitted to 10 counts of attempted cheating and seven charges of impersonating a public servant, which were taken into consideration during sentencing.

A district court heard that sometime in 2013, Selvam hatched a plan to take photos of foreign couples engaging in intimate acts at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden East. He would show them a fake pass to trick them into believing he was a policeman.

He would claim that their behaviour in public was inappropriate and threaten to report them unless they handed him some cash.

Once, at about 5pm on Sept 24 last year, he took a photo of a couple at the park before asking for their work permits. He took photos of the documents, and said he had photos of them behaving intimately. He threatened to send the photos to their employers and the police, unless each handed over $250.

On another occasion, he threatened to upload on the Internet photos he took of a couple he caught engaging in intimacy. They passed him $600.

And on Christmas Day in 2014, he went up to a couple and told the boyfriend that he was not allowed to touch the woman's breasts in public.

Selvam threatened to take the couple to a police station, saying that their inappropriate behaviour in public could see them fined or jailed. They handed him $300.

On some occasions, Selvam would tell couples that they were not supposed to be in the garden after 7pm, or that the garden was meant only for Singaporeans.

He also told a foreigner who was smoking in the park that he could be fined $300 for doing so, and asked for $100.

In all, Selvam cheated 14 victims of $2,560 between January 2014 and October last year.

For his cheating offences, Selvam could have been jailed for up to five years and fined. For pretending to be a policeman, he could have been jailed for up to two years and fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2016, with the headline 'Fake cop extorted money from foreigners'. Print Edition | Subscribe