Jail, caning, for man who posed as loan shark to extort cash from girlfriend's former lover

SINGAPORE - Relationships can get complicated but a woman wove an especially messy web of deceit which ensnared the two married men she had relationships with.

Although the 27-year-old woman was financially supported by her first lover even after their relationship soured, she wanted more money from him.

So she roped in Muhammad Zainal Abdul Zailani, 32, to pretend to be a loan shark to extort money from her former lover.

They successfully duped the 38-year-old man into transferring $8,500 to the woman's bank account, but when they tried to pull a similar stunt a second time, they were arrested.

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On Thursday (March 28), Zainal was sentenced to two years' jail and three strokes of the cane for extortion.

The former private-hire car driver had a second extortion charge considered during sentencing.

The victim and the woman cannot be named due to a gag order to protect his identity but the woman was charged in court and her case is pending.

The court heard that the woman first met the victim in November 2014, and despite knowing he was a married man and a father, they became romantically involved the following month.

He then gave the woman up to $1,500 every month as an allowance, Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra said.

Their relationship soured by December 2016 but the woman remained in contact with him.

She often bugged him for money and eventually he gave in and transferred several hundred dollars to her each month.

Court documents did not reveal how she met Zainal, but in a twist, she found herself giving him money because of his financial woes then.

After they started a romantic relationship, she hatched a plan to obtain more money from her former lover.

DPP Malhotra said: "She suggested to Zainal that he should pretend to be an 'ah long' (an unlicensed moneylender).

"She said he should call the victim and tell him that (she) was in the custody of an 'ah long', and demand that the victim pay money to have her released."

Zainal did as he was told at around 7.30pm on May 2, 2017.

He also threatened the woman's former lover and said he knew where he lived and worked.

The DPP added: "Zainal demanded that the victim pay the money purportedly owed to him... otherwise, he would harass the victim and his family.

"Zainal made these threats to intentionally put the victim in fear of bodily harm to his family."

The victim transferred $8,500 to the woman's bank account and she gave about $500 of this amount to Zainal before spending the rest.

Later that month, the couple conspired again to contact the victim to demand $10,000.

But he had enough and alerted the police at around 3am on May 21, 2017.

As part of a police operation, he arranged to meet the woman and Zainal at Jem shopping centre in Jurong later that same day.

Plain-clothes officers arrested her when she arrived at the scene, and Zainal, a short while later.

The pair have made no restitution of the money they took.

For extortion, Zainal could have been jailed for between two and seven years and caned.