SINGAPORE: An insurance agent took revenge on former and potential clients who rejected his business by sending them threatening letters signed off as "Lord Voldermort".
For his actions, Myanmar national and Singapore permanent resident Ye Lin Myint, 36, was sentenced to jail for two years and five months on Tuesday (Jan 29).
The court heard that Ye sent such letters to 33 people in total, demanding they each send him one Bitcoin, which was worth between S$6,500 and S$9,900 at the time.
The Prudential insurance agent, who is no longer with the company, began by mailing letters to the residential addresses of people he viewed as potential or former clients who rejected him.
They were either his current clients who failed to turn up for scheduled appointments with him, clients who cancelled insurance policies they previously bought from him, or potential clients who did not get insurance policies from him.
He began his preparations in July 2017, using his wife's laptop to create an email account with a Switzerland-based email service that did not require any personal information.
Ye also created a Bitcoin wallet to receive the cryptocurrency and linked it to the email account he had created under the name "Lord Voldermort", a misspelling of Lord Voldemort, a character in the Harry Potter book and film series.
After sending several letters and emails to these clients and potential clients in August 2017, the insurance agent read a news article about unlicensed moneylenders pressuring debtors by harassing their neighbours.
He decided he would extend his harassment to the neighbours of his clients, and sent letters to them as well.
These letters threatened harassment of the neighbours' homes if they did not "urge" his clients to pay Ye what he had asked for.
One such email read: "For the past few months, I have been monitoring you and your wife and I know everything about you and your family. I know where you live, where you work.
"I can make your life total humiliated and miserable [sic] in your Myanmar community. I can make you become jobless. I can even physically harm you and your wife and your parents if I want to."
The Singapore Police Force, along with Nee Soon Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah, issued online advisories to warn those who received such letters not to respond to them.
None of the victims transferred Bitcoins to the accused, but all of them made police reports, Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran said.
Ye was arrested after extensive investigations by the police, which included taking multiple victim statements and using DNA evidence to trace him.
SUSTAINED CAMPAIGN OF HARASSMENT
Ye pleaded guilty to five charges of criminal intimidation and eight charges under the Protection from Harassment Act, with another 30 charges taken into consideration.
The prosecution had asked for a jail term of three years and three months, saying that the accused had conducted "a persistent, relentless and sustained campaign of harassment".
"This is by far one of the worst cases of harassment prosecuted under the Protection from Harassment Act," said the prosecutor, pointing out the multiple victims and large degree of harassment including threats of fire and vandalism.
The defence said Ye had a clean record and was diagnosed with mild depression at the time of the offences.
He had also faced financial problems and family issues while working as an insurance agent, a job he had held since 2011.
District Judge Marvin Bay said he took note of these points, but added that Ye's messages were "malicious and even cruel", and he had resorted to threats in some cases.
In one instance, Ye told a victim: "Do you really want to stay stressful not knowing whether (your daughter) will be safe or not."
The judge said Ye's "fanciful use of character names such as Harry Potter's nemesis Lord Voldemort and Dr Bruce Banner, the genteel alter ego of Marvel character The Incredible Hulk" should not distract from the malign purpose of Ye's intimidating messages.