Internet pimp jailed two years, fined $83k

Roderic Chen Hao Ran pleaded guilty to nine out of 27 charges in all - for living on the earnings of prostitution, procuring women for vice activities and using a remote communication device to run a prostitution business.
Roderic Chen Hao Ran pleaded guilty to nine out of 27 charges in all - for living on the earnings of prostitution, procuring women for vice activities and using a remote communication device to run a prostitution business.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

He is first to be dealt with under law on use of mobile devices to carry out vice business

An Internet pimp became the first person in a concluded court case to be dealt with under a new law aimed at tackling the problem of online vice syndicates.

Roderic Chen Hao Ran, now 32, hosted photos of his stable of 12 sex workers on a website and operated his business out of a mobile phone.

Under the new law, which was rolled out on July 1 last year, it is illegal to operate a remote communication device to carry out a prostitution business.

Chen had committed a series of vice-related crimes between the middle of 2014 and July last year.

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Yesterday, he was jailed for two years and fined $83,000 for running his vice business, which involved only Singaporean women, aged between 21 and 39.

The shop assistant pleaded guilty to five charges of living in part on the earnings of prostitution, three counts of procuring women for vice activities and one charge of operating a mobile phone to carry out his vice business.

Eighteen other charges - most of them vice-related- were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Gail Wong told District Judge May Mesenas: "(The new law is) intended to target vice syndicates operating online, which then arrange sexual services at hotels and residences instead of traditional brothels."

She added: "The use of (electronic means) increases the difficulty of detection due to the anonymity of the Internet which also facilitates cross-border criminal activity, and where servers can be hosted overseas, making it more difficult for local law enforcement to trace offenders."

Chen, who was in 2003 and 2011 convicted of crimes, including assisting in an unlicensed moneylending business, said he learnt to operate a social escort business after meeting a man known as Adam while he was in prison.

After his release, Chen set up one such company, but court papers did not mention when this took place.

DPP Wong said that in 2015, Chen met a man known as Lee Soon Ann, 37, and they agreed to work together and share commissions.

That year, a 32-year-old woman came across an Internet advertisement recruiting social escorts and sent a message to a mobile phone number attached to it.

Chen replied, telling her the job included her providing sexual services to customers.

From May to July last year, she provided sexual services to around 16 customers and transferred about $3,000 of her earnings to Chen.

At least four other women were recruited in a similar manner; each transferred between $2,000 and $10,800 of their earnings to Chen.

Based on information received in relation to Chen's vice website, police raided his home on July 27, last year.

Lee's case is pending.

For each charge of living in part on the earnings of prostitution, Chen could have been jailed for up to five years and also fined up to $10,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2017, with the headline 'Internet pimp jailed two years, fined $83k'. Print Edition | Subscribe