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12 people investigated for alleged involvement in extortion letters with fake obscene photographs

SINGAPORE – Twelve people are being investigated following a police investigation into recent reports of extortion letters containing doctored obscene photographs of the victims.

The seven men and five women, aged between 18 and 46, had allegedly provided bank accounts and SIM cards used to commit a series of extortions, police said in a press release on Wednesday (May 1).

They were “allegedly involved in obtaining bank accounts for criminal activities or facilitated or assisted in unauthorized access to Singpass accounts, or purchased and handed over local SIM cards obtained through illegal means,” the press release said.

“All of whom had allegedly been facilitating the criminal activities of offshore fraud syndicates.”

Preliminary investigations revealed that the 12 people had allegedly received or been promised assignments.

During the two-week operation, at least S$115,000 in suspected criminal proceeds were recovered, some of which were allegedly linked to other scam cases, police said, adding that a number of electronic devices were also seized.

A 23-year-old woman will be charged in court on Thursday with facilitating unauthorized access to computer material under the Computer Misuse Act.

If convicted, she faces up to two years in prison, a fine, or both.

170 REPORTS RECEIVED

Several members of Parliament were among dozens of people who received extortion letters containing doctored photographs.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan as well as MPs Tan Wu Meng and Edward Chia posted on Facebook on April 20 saying they had received such letters and filed police reports.

More than 170 reports of such extortion letters were received between March and April 2024, police said Wednesday.

The letters contained photographs of the victims’ faces superimposed on obscene photographs of a man and woman allegedly in an “intimate and compromising position.”

The letters also warned of “threatening consequences” unless victims contacted the email address provided.

If victims contacted the email address, they would be asked to transfer money to prevent “compromising photographs and videos” of themselves from being leaked and exposed on social media, police had said. CNA