Man paid hacker RuneScape in-game currency to access email accounts related to ex-girlfriend, gets probation

Man paid hacker RuneScape in-game currency to access email accounts related to ex-girlfriend, gets probation

Runescape
RuneScape is an online computer game. (Photo: Facebook/RuneScape)

SINGAPORE: A 20-year-old man offered an acquaintance on online game RuneScape in-game currency to help him hack into email accounts belonging to men linked to his ex-girlfriend, later threatening one of the victims with a screenshot of his hacked account.

For two counts of instigating another person to secure unauthorised access to computer material and one count of intentionally causing alarm by sending threatening communications, Lee See Hao was sentenced on Tuesday (Sep 22) to a year's probation.

Another four charges were taken into consideration.

Lee, who is now 24, also has to perform 50 hours of community service and stay with his mother during the period of probation. His mother furnished a bond of S$5,000 to ensure his good behaviour.

The court heard that Lee's ex-girlfriend had given him access to her email account when they were together. When they broke up in 2016, the ex-girlfriend sought a friend's help to change her email security settings as she did not want Lee to access her account any further.

When Lee could not access the account, he realised that the victim, a 23-year-old man, had helped his ex-girlfriend change her security settings.

On Sep 10, 2016, Lee sent messages to a Skype user he knew as Jake, and whom he had met in the online computer game RuneScape.

As Lee had heard that Jake could hack into online accounts, he offered Jake 60 million coins in RuneScape to help him hack the victim's account.

Jake agreed and accessed the victim's email account, taking two screenshots of his inbox and sending them to Lee.

Lee sent the screenshots to the victim, threatening him: "I can empty your bank account so ****ing easily", and saying: "I promise you I won't do anything, unless you step out of line."

The victim was alarmed and changed his email password and security settings before making a police report.

Later that month in September 2016, Lee discovered that his ex-girlfriend had begun dating a 21-year-old man.

He grew angry and contacted Jake again, offering him another 60 million RuneScape coins to get the new man's email password.

Jake agreed and hacked into the second victim's email account and gave Lee the password.

Lee used the information in the email account to access the victim's social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram, before resetting the Facebook password and deleting the Instagram account.

When the victim realised what happened, he made a police report. He suspected Lee was the culprit as Lee had previously expressed his unhappiness about the victim's relationship with Lee's ex-girlfriend.

Lee was later identified and his devices seized. He said Jake is not from Singapore and does not know how to locate him.

LAWYER ASKS FOR PROBATION

Lee's lawyer, Jonathan Lim from Dentons Rodyk & Davidson, asked for probation for his client, saying that rehabilitation was the dominant consideration.

He said four years has lapsed since the offences, and Lee has since steered clear of trouble and moved on with life productively, completing his national service and enrolling in the Singapore University of Social Sciences.

He is also working part-time as a food delivery rider to generate income, and lives alone with his mother who is divorced. The family is not financially well-off, and Lee was 20 at the time of the offences and is considered a young offender, said Mr Lim.

He said Lee had contacted the second victim online before the offences, and the second victim had allegedly taunted Lee, saying "she is mine now", referring to Lee's ex-girlfriend.

"Any imprisonment, high fine, and criminal record for a young offender like See Hao’s could potentially derail his future plans and career," said Mr Lim. 

"His ability to be a useful, productive and responsible member of society should not be short-circuited because of fleeting lapses of judgment. The defence also highlights that 'the public have no greater interest than that he should become a good citizen. The difficult task of the court is to determine what treatment gives the best chance of realising that object'," he said, citing from a previous judgment.

For his computer crimes, Lee could have been jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$5,000, or both.

Source: CNA/ll(ac)

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