Student threatened women on Facebook after finding their intimate images leaked online by purported hacker

SINGAPORE: After coming across some links online to compromising images and footage of women purportedly obtained by a hacker, a tertiary student downloaded some of the content to his computer.

After reviewing the content, he contacted two of the women online under a fake profile and threatened them in order to get them to respond to him or send him a photo.

Daryl Lim Jin Chou, 27, was sentenced to 15 weeks’ jail on Wednesday (Nov 2). He pleaded guilty to two charges of criminal intimidation by anonymous communication.

Two other charges under the Films Act were considered in sentencing.

The court heard that Lim was a student at the Singapore Institute of Management at the time of the offences.

Around late 2017 or early 2018, he was browsing HardwareZone and other online forums when he came across links to data from an alleged hacker.

He realised that the hacker had obtained private photos and videos of women in various stages of undress, or in the midst of sexual activities. The footage was sorted by names.

Interested in the content, Lim downloaded some of the data and saved the files to his computer.

After reviewing the content, he wanted to initiate contact with some of the women in the photos and videos, the prosecutor said.

Lim set up a Facebook profile under a fake name so he could assume another identity and communicate anonymously with the women.

The first victim was a 25-year-old woman, a tertiary student in Singapore. Lim saw that the leaked content contained her name, so he found her profile on Facebook and matched her face to the data he had downloaded.

He sent her messages on Feb 3, 2018, including her nude photo that he had downloaded and links to her parents’ Facebook profiles. 

He then threatened her: “I suggest you reply (victim’s name). Otherwise…”

The victim was afraid that Lim would send her nude photo to her parents if she did not reply him. She filed a police report later that same day.

The second victim was a 29-year-old woman who worked in a bank. Lim similarly found her Facebook profile by matching her face and name to the footage he had downloaded.

On Mar 25, 2018, he contacted the victim with a screengrab of a video of her performing a sex act.

He said: “Reply if you don’t want this to go viral.” 

The victim was alarmed. He asked her to send him a photo of herself in three minutes.

The victim responded to say she could not, as she was boarding a flight at the airport.

Lim then threatened her, saying that if he did not see a photo of her with her chest exposed by midnight, “I can’t guarantee the video would be secret for long”.

The victim lodged a police report when she returned to Singapore.

Lim was arrested at his home in April 2018.

The prosecutor called for 15 to 18 weeks’ jail. Defence lawyer Ashwin Ganapathy asked for the lower end of that – 15 weeks’ jail.

The offence of criminal intimidation by anonymous communication carries a jail term of up to two years, on top of the punishment for criminal intimidation.

Criminal intimidation on its own carries a jail term of up to two years, a fine, or both.