SINGAPORE — A man planted a motion-sensor camera in his male boss’ home and captured the married man performing sexual acts with another man. He later used the footage to blackmail his boss.
The 24-year-old man was jailed 22 months on Wednesday (10 November) after he pleaded guilty to one count of criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication. A count of distributing the intimate recordings was taken into consideration for his sentencing.
He also pleaded guilty to one count of gathering with others outside of his residence for a New Year’s Eve countdown party last year and was fined $3,500.
The victim, a 53-year-old businessman, is married. Both the victim and the accused cannot be named to protect the victim’s identity.
Left camera in boss' house for three weeks
In late 2019, the accused installed a CCTV camera on top of a bookshelf in the victim’s house, intending to record his private activities.
The camera was set on motion notification mode, which meant that whenever someone was in the room, a notification would be sent to the accused through an application on his handphone. The accused would then be able to see and record what was happening in the room in real time.
In the three weeks which he left the camera in his boss’ house, he viewed and recorded the victim engaging in sexual activities with another male on at least five occasions. He saved the recordings in his handphone.
On 9 March last year, the accused and two other men - Tan Yong Jian, 24, and Daryn Ho Yong Jian, 23 - had a gathering, and he showed the videos to the two others. The trio knew that the victim was a “person of means” and decided to use the videos to extort him.
They agreed that the accused would receive 50 per cent of the extorted sum, while the other two men would split the remaining equally between them. The accused sent the other two the videos and gave them the victim’s number.
The trio obtained an unregistered SIM card to text the victim anonymously, and set up a group chat titled “Heist” on Telegram for their purposes. Tan texted the victim anonymously, sending three videos along with the message, “I have some videos and pictures at my disposal that I think will be of interest to you."
When the victim failed to reply some two hours later, Tan sent another message, “I guess these videos doesn’t interest you as much as I thought it would. Guess I’ll just share it?”
Exchange of messages to extort $50k from victim
For the next three days, the trio discussed what to do as the victim did not reply. They decided to demand $60,000 from the victim.
The victim finally replied on 12 March last year, sending them a message that read, “What you’re doing is so wrong, whoever you are. however I’m prepared to work with you though, but 1stly (sic) that amount is too much as I am owing banks lots especially during COVID where all my businesses are losing money badly.
"But if really promise as above, I may need time and can squeeze out maybe $50k but you have to keep your word and how will I know its complete removed? And now I’m very busy with a meeting for next two hours plus so can’t reply.”
The three decided to accept the sum of $50,000, and settled on asking the victim to place the cash in Bukit Panjang. Tan replied to the victim, saying, “I understand that because of the virus the economy is indeed affected. Let’s say if it’s at 50k, I would want the amount in cash tomorrow.
"For the collection wise, there will be mutual trust as you might have the intention of calling the police. I give you my word that this will not affect you or show up anywhere in public and I will not circulate this video among anyone and there will not be any more demands. You have my word.”
He followed up with a message the next day, saying that the exchange should be settled by that night.
Continued extortion even while on bail
The victim suspected that the videos had been recorded by one of his personal assistants who had access to his house. He lodged a police report on 10 March last year, and the three were arrested on 13 March last year. They were charged a day later.
While on bail, Tan continued trying to extort the victim with a co-accused, Mahadevan Edwyn. He gave the victim’s number to Mahadevan, who used another unregistered SIM card to text the victim for $50,000. The victim reported the matter to the police.
Mahadevan pleaded guilty to his role in the offence on 18 October and is expected to be sentenced on 29 November. Tan pleaded guilty to his charge on 27 July this year and was sentenced to 22 months’ jail. Ho's case is still pending before the courts.
Separately, the accused attended a countdown party with 43 other individuals at industrial building Tradehub 21 on 31 December last year. He was found in the premises, where a karaoke was set up and beer towers and alcohol were provided.
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