Man posed as a woman then used victims' nude photos to extort $6,000
He advertised sexual services online and blackmailed victims by threatening to release photos, personal info
For nearly a month, sometimes on a daily basis, he would receive the same threat - pay up or his nude photo would be leaked on social media.
The 22-year-old Singaporean man had willingly sent the photo to Ramlan Abu, 24, thinking he was a woman.
Ramlan had posed as a woman advertising sexual services online.
Fearing for his reputation, the victim kept paying.
Ramlan used similar tactics on nine others, and would also pretend to be his own agent to cheat them.
Yesterday, he was sentenced to 61/2 years in prison and 10 strokes of the cane for extortion, cheating, and possessing methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
In what the prosecution called an unprecedented case, Ramlan pleaded guilty to 14 charges, with 50 other related offences taken into consideration.
Between March and October last year, he received $6,000 from eight victims, who cannot be named due to a gag order.
Ramlan had a profile on a classifieds website, where he advertised sexual services under female names such as "Ellisha" or "Mariaa". Men would send him a text message or call him on his mobile phone thinking they were contacting a woman, though some of the victims knew he was transsexual.
The 22-year-old victim had contacted Ramlan through WhatsApp on Sept 24, last year.
He sent the nude photo and Ramlan suggested a video call.
The victim agreed to pay Ramlan to see the latter perform a sex act, only realising Ramlan was a man when he saw his genitals.
Later that day, Ramlan sent the victim a Facebook post with photos showing the victim's genitals and face, and told him he would not remove it unless he was paid $90. Ramlan continued to extort money from the man, who transferred more than $3,000 on 31 occasions.
Stressed, he finally made a police report on Oct 22.
Ramlan was arrested the next day.
In dealing with other victims, Ramlan would threaten to leak incriminating conversations or the victims' personal information to make them pay up.
In mitigation, defence lawyer Koh Jian Ying said Ramlan needed money to pay his elderly mother's medical expenses.
He was her sole caretaker and she had suffered a stroke in 2015, the lawyer said.
Mr Koh said Ramlan had no intention of releasing the victims' identities, personal information, or photos, and at no point were they disseminated to the public.
But Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhou Yihong rejected Ramlan's claim about his mother's medical expenses, arguing he had spent the money for his personal use.
DPP Zhou said Ramlan's extortion was persistent and egregious.
She urged the court to issue a strong deterrent message with a harsh imprisonment term.