Man gets jail, $6k fine for prostitution racket

Loi ran a website that advertised prostitute services, charging $350 to $400 per month for each profile. He also used another person's name to rent a flat, before subletting it to an immigration offender.
Loi ran a website that advertised prostitute services, charging $350 to $400 per month for each profile. He also used another person's name to rent a flat, before subletting it to an immigration offender.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A 42-year-old webmaster earned up to $50,000 by advertising prostitute services for a year, a court heard.

Yesterday, Loi Pi-Yong was given a jail term of three months and four weeks. He was also fined $6,000.

He pleaded guilty to three charges of living on the earnings of prostitution and one count of harbouring an immigration offender.

The court heard Loi came to know a 33-year-old prostitute from China in December 2014. She introduced him to Chan King Yew, 35, who ran a website advertising several prostitutes. Loi agreed to work for Chan.

He advertised prostitutes' services on Chan's website and charged the prostitutes $400 for each advert. Loi would get a cut of $250 from each payment, and give the remaining $150 to Chan. In March last year, Loi set up a competing website.

"To make this new website look more attractive, Loi borrowed images from Chan's website and also advertised it on online forums," said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Winston Man.

Loi charged $350 to $400 per month for each prostitute's profile.

"In all, he estimated that he earned up to $50,000 through operating his website," said DPP Man.

For example, the prostitute he first met paid him $2,800 to have her profile and services advertised from July 16, 2015 to Feb 9, 2016.

Loi also used another person's name to rent an apartment at Suites @ Guillemard from Oct 13 last year, for $2,300 a month. Later that month, he sublet the unit to the prostitute from China for the same price.

He did not verify that she was not an immigration offender, even though she had only a 30-day visit pass when she arrived in Singapore on Aug 28, and had continued to stay on unlawfully.

She was arrested when police raided the unit on Feb 25, having overstayed for 151 days.

In mitigation, Loi's lawyer Edmund Wong said Loi, a first-time offender, was remorseful and had cooperated fully with the police.

The maximum penalty for living on the earnings of prostitution is five years' jail and a $10,000 fine; and for harbouring an immigration offender, a $6,000 fine and 12 months' jail.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2016, with the headline 'Man gets jail, $6k fine for prostitution racket'. Print Edition | Subscribe