SINGAPORE - A Hong Kong man threatened to disseminate the nude photograph of a 67-year-old Singaporean woman and ruin her career, if she did not pay him $100,000.
The woman had a two-year sexual relationship with Calvin Mok Wai Lun, but told the 41-year-old in July this year that she wanted to end it. She added that she would not be giving him more money.
That was when he demanded a lump sum of $100,000 via threatening messages.
Mok, a bespectacled freelance masseur, was sentenced to 13 weeks' jail on Friday (Nov 6) after he admitted to sending the woman a series of messages in Hong Kong on Aug 20, with intent to cause her alarm.
This is the first transnational crime under the Protection from Harassment Act whereby the crime was committed outside Singapore and the victim was in Singapore.
The court heard that the victim came to know Mok in 2013 when she was holidaying in Hong Kong. She engaged his services after she found his profile on a website, and they had a sexual encounter when they first met.
They developed a relationship, and communicated often with one another using the WhatsApp messaging service.
Between 2013 and this year, he accompanied her on holidays around South-east Asia and when she visited Hong Kong. She paid for all his expenses, and gave him money as she knew he was in financial difficulties.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sheryl Janet George said on Aug 20, Mok sent a series of WhatsApp messages to the victim. He also sent a nude photograph of her and threatened to disseminate that picture as well as compromising video clips of her to a man she knew.
He also sent various voice clips in these messages and threatened to destroy her reputation. He tried to blackmail her into giving him $100,000.
Distressed, the victim lodged a police report on Aug 26.
DPP George said that after negotiation, the sum was finally reduced to $60,000.
The victim managed to convince Mok to come to Singapore to collect the money, and he was arrested on Sept 3 at Changi Airport.
Police seized his mobile phone, which not only had the victim's nude picture but also two video clips of her engaging in sexual activities with him.
He admitted that he had taken the compromising photograph and video clips of the victim without her knowledge when they were holidaying in the region.
District Judge Soh Tze Bian said in his oral judgment that the offence was clearly planned and premeditated. Mok's actions were calculated and deliberate, he said.
"Instances where WhatsApp service is being used as a tool to perpetuate offences are undoubtedly on the increase throughout the world. In IT-savvy Singapore, the problem is further compounded by the wide and extensive reach of the WhatsApp service and other similar Apps on smart mobile phones," said Judge Soh.
He said anyone from anywhere in the world can use WhatsApp on smart phones as a tool to perpetuate offences in and outside Singapore with consummate ease.
The elderly and young women are made particularly vulnerable as they are most likely to be preyed upon and solicited for sex and/or held to ransom.
Mok's lawyer Troy Yeo said his client knew he had abused a trusting relationship and taken advantage of the victim, and is very sorry.
Mok's sentence was backdated to Sept 5. He could have been fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed for up to six months.