Using a photo of another man, 34-year-old Chinese national Lin Rongxin catfished and harassed at least 20 young girls and women in an elaborate scheme.
On 28 Nov, Lin pleaded guilty to seven charges including rape, making anonymous threats, and instigating a victim into making voyeuristic films.
Taking another 57 charges into consideration, the Supreme Court sentenced him to 31 years’ jail and 24 strokes of the cane on 5 Dec.
According to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), Lin, a married father of one, met his victims via WeChat or the dating app TanTan from 2018 to 28 Jun 2019.
He often targeted female Chinese nationals aged between 14 and 19 who were studying in Singapore.
He never used his real identity or face and used a photo of a 19-year-old Chinese man instead.
Under this persona, Lin would chat with his victims before asking them to send revealing photos and videos or perform live sex acts on camera.
Recording or saving the footage occasionally, he then used the nudes to threaten the girls.
He told them that they had to perform sex acts on live video or give him money. Otherwise, he would leak the footage.
Through his profile, Lin even persuaded some victims to have sex with another man, who was actually himself.
One such case involved a 14-year-old girl who met Lin through TanTan. Under a different persona, Lin asked her to be his girlfriend.
He made another profile to chat her up as well before accusing her of ‘infidelity’ under the first one.
Lin then convinced the girl to send him nudes and later used them to force her into giving him money. Out of fear, she performed sex acts for him almost every night at least ten times.
The victim borrowed money from a relative to give Lin S$992 (5,200 yuan), but he proceeded to ask for more.
When she said she didn’t have the money, Lin asked her for sex, but she refused.
He offered a solution, which was to ‘sell’ her virginity to another individual in exchange for not leaking the pictures. The girl agreed to this.
However, this other individual turned out to be Lin posing as her “saviour”. Meeting her at an industrial building, he raped her in the men’s toilet.
He also said he would assist her in dealing with the blackmail.
After the assault, Lin, assuming his online persona, texted the victim to show concern. This made the girl feel grateful and she began dating him.
During their relationship, Lin claimed he spent almost S$50,000 (260,000 yuan) trying to buy her nudes from her blackmailer, The Straits Times (ST) reports. This made her feel indebted to him.
They had sex many times while they were dating, and he continued to blackmail her.
In one instance, he demanded that she send him a video of her 14-year-old friend while she was showering, which she did.
The victim also agreed to film her teenage flatmates on several other occasions. There were around 90 such videos on Lin’s devices at the time of his arrest.
His offences came to light when the victim accidentally sent one of the videos to her flatmate. Confronting her, the flatmate called the police, which caused the victim to inform Lin about what happened.
She took the blame after being told by Lin to do so. After her arrest, her father flew into Singapore and became suspicious when he heard her story.
Eventually, police managed to arrest Lin in a sting operation when he met the victim to have sex.
On Monday (28 Nov), Lin pleaded guilty to seven charges, including three counts of rape and one count of instigating a victim into making voyeuristic films.
He received a jail term of 31 years with an additional 24 strokes of the cane, ST reports.
At the time of sentencing, High Court judge Hoo Sheau Peng labelled him a depraved sexual predator. She said he harmed the lives of not just his 20 victims, but their families as well.
In addition, she noted that the case was a reminder of technology being prevalent in crimes. As such, the sentence should signal potential offenders of the Court’s zero tolerance for those who abuse technology to target vulnerable individuals.
“It is my hope that the victims will find some measure of closure with the conclusion of this case,” she said.
Labelling it a “sextortion” scheme, the prosecution called the scale of Lin’s offences “shocking”.
As a result of her experience, the victim sought psychiatric treatment. However, she still allegedly suffers from severe insomnia as of Feb 2021.
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Featured image adapted from @cliqueimages on Unsplash.
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