Man gets two years' jail and three strokes for using nude photos to extort from girlfriend

Daryl Cheong Zhi Yong threatened to distribute the nude photographs of his girlfriend to her parents when she refused to sign up for two mobile phone plans for him. PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A man threatened to distribute the nude photographs of his girlfriend to her parents when she refused to sign up for two mobile phone plans for him, a district court heard.

Out of fear, the 21-year-old woman complied with his demand.

The court heard that Daryl Cheong Zhi Yong, 26, had obtained her photographs during their relationship.

He texted her on July 13, 2016 and asked her to sign up for a Singtel mobile plan with a Samsung handset and a Starhub plan with an Oppo handset.

After the part-time student subscribed to the two plans costing a total of $3,143, she gave the two phones to Cheong. He later sold them for cash.

On Thursday (Aug 3), Cheong admitted to one charge each of extortion, theft in dwelling and assisting in unlicensed moneylending.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenny Yang said Cheong went to his elder brother's room on March 12, 2016 and stole a $1,000 gold chain with pendant, two gold rings worth $1,000 and Takashimaya vouchers valued at $2,000. He also took cash totalling $520 from the 27-year-old sales assistant's unlocked safe under his bed.

Cheong threw away the vouchers and sold the jewellery, using the proceeds for his own spending.

Investigation showed that sometime in August 2014, Cheong aided in illegal moneylending - he had handed over his POSB ATM card and personal identification number linked to the account to a woman named Jojo for use in connection with her loansharking business.

Between Aug 30 and Nov 30 that year, a total of $115,910 was deposited into his POSB account, and $116,036 was withdrawn.

A 52-year-old man, who had taken loans from unlicensed moneylenders, had made repayments by way of fund transfers to the POSB account.

Cheong was arrested on July 26, 2016.

His lawyer Raymond Ng, assigned by the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, said his client, then a chef in a seafood cafe, made the threat in anger. He said Cheong wanted to tell his girlfriend that he would pay for the monthly telco instalments but the lines were already terminated.

District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim sentenced Cheong to a jail term of two years one month and a $30,000 fine, as well as three strokes of the cane.

Another extortion charge was taken into considering for sentencing.

Cheong could have been jailed for up to seven years and caned for extortion. The maximum penalty for theft in dwelling is seven years' jail and a fine; and for assisting in unlicensed moneylending, a $300,000 fine, four years' jail and up to six strokes of the cane.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.