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‘Depraved sexual predator’ gets 31 years’ jail, caning for raping young victims in elaborate catfishing scheme

SINGAPORE – A 34-year-old man who deceived at least 20 young girls and women for sexual gratification in an elaborate catfishing scheme, that involved multiple personas, has been sentenced by the Supreme Court to 34 years’ jail, and 24 strokes of the cane.

‘Depraved sexual predator’ gets 31 years’ jail, caning for raping young victims in elaborate catfishing scheme
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  • Lin Rongxin, 34, was sentenced to 31 years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane
  • He pleaded guilty to seven charges including rape, criminal intimidation and voyeurism
  • Using dating apps and fake personas, he preyed on girls aged between 14 and 19
  • They were usually from China and studying in Singapore

SINGAPORE – A 34-year-old man who deceived at least 20 young girls and women for sexual gratification in an elaborate catfishing scheme has been sentenced by the Supreme Court to 31 years’ jail and 24 strokes of the cane.

Catfishing refers to the act of trying to trick or attract someone by pretending to be someone different on social media.

Justice Hoo Sheau Peng, who presided over the hearing on Monday (Dec 5), described Lin Rongxin as a “depraved sexual predator” who was “cunning, opportunistic and manipulative”.

She thus said that the 34-year-old’s “reprehensible conduct calls for the most severe sentencing and punishment”.

I also hope that the plights of the victims serve to warn young people to exercise the utmost of caution in their online interactions.
Justice Hoo Sheau Peng

Lin, a married man and father of one from China, had pleaded guilty on Nov 28 to seven charges including rape, criminal intimidation and voyeurism.

Another 57 charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

The court previously heard that Lin had been working as a machinery technician in Singapore for 12 years before he was arrested, and was living in a dormitory with his wife and their son.

PREYED ON YOUNG GIRLS

Court documents showed that Lin targeted girls aged between 14 and 19, who were usually from China and studying in Singapore.

From 2018 to June 28 in 2019, he met his victims on the WeChat mobile application or TanTan dating app.

He used a fictitious persona named “Lin Zhi Xuan” (LZX), pretending to be a 19-year-old man from the Fujian province in China. He also used an image of a Chinese man of similar age to catfish his victims.

Lin would chat with his victims before asking them to send him revealing photos or videos. He would also ask them to film themselves performing sex acts on live video after chatting with them online. 

There were also instances in which he had unprotected sex with four of his victims.

Lin was later found to have a form of herpes and hepatitis B.

ADOPTED VARIOUS PERSONAS

Lin tricked at least three victims into having sex with him while posing as both a “blackmailer” and a “saviour”.

One of these grave instances involved a victim from China who arrived in Singapore to study in October 2018 when she was 14.

With no immediate family members in Singapore and few friends, she downloaded the TanTan app with the intent of widening her social circle.

There, Lin, who was using his online persona of LZX, was able to befriend the girl who eventually agreed to be his girlfriend.

Using the persona, Lin managed to persuade the girl to carry out sexually compromising acts on live video, which he secretly recorded.

Eventually, LZX revealed to the girl that he had recorded the videos and threatened to release them online unless she agreed to carry out more of these acts for him on live video.

The videos were then used to extort the girl for money, but because she did not have the money to give him, she had to borrow RMB5,200 (about S$1,000) from a cousin in China to do so.

However, this just led Lin demanding even larger sums, which she was unable to give.

Knowing that the girl was a virgin, Lin — through his online persona — told the girl that he could “sell her virginity” and that he knew of a buyer who would pay RMB10,000 to have sex with her.

He again threatened to post her compromising videos online if she refused to have sex with this “buyer”, who turned out to be another persona Lin created named Huang Yi (HY).

In late October 2018, Lin met the girl as HY at Braddell MRT Station and said that he had paid LZX RMB5,000 to have sex with her.

He took the girl to a toilet at an industrial building in Toa Payoh where he raped her without a condom.

Thereafter, he asked for the girl’s age and when she replied that she was 14, he feigned surprise and said that LZX had lied to him that she was 18.

The girl then told HY that LZX had threatened her into having sex with HY, to which Lin, as HY, said that he would settle the threats coming from LZX.

After that, Lin continued messaging the girl as HY to show that he was concerned about LZX’s threats, which led to the girl feeling grateful towards him.

As HY, Lin also told her that he had spent RMB260,000 trying to buy over her nude images from LZX.

Even though she was raped, court documents said she felt that HY should be her boyfriend.

Feeling indebted to HY and his efforts to help her, they began seeing more of each other, went on several dates and exchanged gifts with each other.

When HY asked to have sex with her, the girl agreed, and they did so on at least seven occasions.

In none of these encounters did Lin use a condom. He also recorded their sexual encounters.

All this while, Lin had continued threatening and blackmailing the girl for money as LZX, and she sought the help of HY, who would transfer money to the girl that she used to give to LZX, for instance.

During the course of all the manipulation, LZX also successfully blackmailed the girl into either filming her friends or flatmates while they were naked and sending the videos to him.

Lin’s crimes were uncovered when the girl accidentally sent a voyeuristic video of her flatmate to the flatmate instead of Lin.

The flatmate confronted her and called the police.

The girl’s father flew to Singapore after she was arrested and grew suspicious when he listened to her story about her “blackmailer” and “saviour”.

Lin was arrested in a sting operation when he met the victim to have sex with her.

In the aftermath, the victim felt silly and used. Her grades fell from Bs to Ds and she had to retake her examinations. She sought psychiatric treatment but continued to suffer from severe insomnia as of February 2021.

‘ENSNARED IN HIS TRAP’

In delivering her sentence, Justice Hoo said that Lin had exploited the vulnerability of his victims, some of whom were not only young, but foreign students with no immediate family members in Singapore.

“As the victims feared that the accused would disseminate their compromising photos and videos, they were helplessly ensnared in his trap when he raped them,” she said.

To round off, I have no hesitation in calling the accused a depraved sexual predator. He has harmed and affected lives, not just of the 20 victims, but of their families.
Justice Hoo Sheau Peng

Justice Hoo also said that Lin had put the victims at real risk of pregnancy and contracting sexually transmitted diseases when he chose not to wear a condom.

“To round off, I have no hesitation in calling the accused a depraved sexual predator. He has harmed and affected lives, not just of the 20 victims, but of their families,” she added.

“This most reprehensible conduct calls for the most severe of punishment for the accused.”

WARNING FOR ONLINE USERS

Lin, who sat in the docks in a purple jumpsuit, appeared emotionless throughout the hearing, though there were times when he buried his head into his knees, which hid him from the public gallery.

Justice Hoo said that the case is a stark reminder of the increasing prevalence of the use of technology in crimes, including sexual crimes, and the sentence she imposed should signal that the law has “no tolerance for the abuse of technology to prey on the vulnerable”.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that the accused was sentenced to 34 years in jail. This is incorrect. It should be 31 years. We are sorry for the error.

Related topics

crime court rape catfish teenager

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