Singaporean sex predator jailed for targeting girl, 13, in the US
He secretly filmed her during live chat, then tried to blackmail her into sending him more pictures of herself
Since he was just 17, a Singaporean sexual predator has been targeting girls of various nationalities from the comfort of his home.
He befriended them based on common interests such as "anime" or "cosplay", and then initiated conversations of a sexual nature before asking them to send him lewd pictures and videos of themselves. He also got them to perform sex acts in front of their web cameras.
The law finally caught up with Sebastian Lye Chee Weng in November 2018 after a 13-year-old victim in the United States told her guardian what he had done.
The American girl, who lived in Arlington, Texas, cannot be named due to a gag order to protect her identity.
On Wednesday, Lye, now 26, was jailed for eight months and two weeks after he pleaded guilty to one count each of sexual exploitation of a minor, possession of obscene films and criminal intimidation. Two other charges were taken into consideration.
The court heard on Wednesday that Lye got to know the victim on an online social media platform that allowed strangers to chat based on a set of common topics, the prosecution said.
The platform also has a live video chat function that allows users to communicate through their webcams.
On July 10, 2018, Lye went on the platform and began a video chat with the victim, during which he convinced her to expose herself despite knowing she was a child. He also asked her to perform some sex acts.
The DPP said: "Unbeknownst to (the victim), the accused recorded video footage of her doing the (sex acts)."
Lye later asked her to send him nude pictures of herself. When she refused, he threatened to hack into her computer and send the video he had recorded to her family.
The DPP said: "Fearing that the accused would carry out his threats, (the victim) relented and sent Lye at least seven photographs of herself in the nude."
After he pestered her for more pictures, she told her guardian about Lye.
The guardian then contacted Lye on Instagram and demanded to know who he was and what he wanted, and told him to stop contacting her ward.
Instead of complying, Lye threatened to send the girl's nude videos and photos to her friends unless the guardian allowed him to continue what he was doing or send him nude pictures of herself.
The guardian later went to Arlington Police Department to report that the victim had been sexually exploited by a perpetrator online.
TRACED AND ARRESTED
On Oct 16, 2018, the Singapore Police Force received information from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement department about a possible offence of sexual exploitation of a child committed by a person in Singapore.
Lye was tracked down through his Internet Protocol address and traced to his home. On Nov 14, the police raided his home and arrested him.
They also seized two computers, three mobile phones and a tablet. The contents of these devices were extracted and found to have 39 obscene video files.
They included those he had recorded from his online chats with unknown females, some of which were done without their consent, as well as pornographic videos.
Lye, who did not have a lawyer, said in mitigation that he wanted to go for counselling.
District Judge Ow Yong Tuck Leong said he was glad Lye had taken the initiative to ask for help.
Mr Gregory Vijayendran, a partner at Rajah & Tann and president of the Law Society, said the offences in this case are likely not extraditable as they are not in the list of offences under the Extradition Act.
"A number of factors point towards Singapore as an appropriate jurisdiction to try this case," he said, explaining that Lye's arrest and the seizure of evidence had taken place in Singapore.
Lawyer Chooi Jing Yen, partner at Eugene Thuraisingam LLP, said while Lye's case is certainly egregious, the facts of the case are not unique.
"We are starting to see more and more of such cases, especially with technology where it is now possible to commit sex crimes remotely," he added.