Webmaster who earned $50k by advertising prostitutes gets jail, fine

SINGAPORE - A 42-year-old webmaster earned up to $50,000 by advertising prostitutes for a year, a court heard.

Loi Pi-Yong charged each prostitute $350 to $400 a month.

On Monday (Oct 10), he was sentenced to three months and four weeks' jail. He was also fined $6,000.

He pleaded guilty to three charges of living on the earnings of prostitution and one count of harbouring an immigration offender.

A district court heard that in Dec 2014, Loi got to know a 33-year-old prostitute from China. She introduced him to Chan King Yew, 35, who ran a website advertising several prostitutes. Loi agreed to work for Chan.

Loi would help prostitutes advertise their sexual services on Chan's website, charging them $400 for each time they advertised on the site. Loi would get a cut of $250 from each payment, and pass the remaining $150 to Chan.

However, Chan later felt that Loi had failed to properly maintain his website, the court heard.

In March last year, Loi set up a competing website, advertising the provision of sexual services by prostitutes.

"To make this new website look more attractive, Loi borrowed images from Chan's website and also advertised it on online forums," said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Winston Man.

Loi charged $350 to $400 per month for each prostitute's profile.

"In all, he estimated that he had earned up to $50,000 through operating his website," added DPP Man.

For example, the 33-year-old prostitute whom Loi had gotten to know in Dec 2014 paid him $2,800 to have her profile and sexual services advertised from July 16, 2015 to Feb 9, 2016.

The court also heard that Loi used another person's name to rent a unit at Suites @ Guillemard, located at 70 Lim Ah Woo Road, from Oct 13 last year, for $2,300 a month.

Later that month, Loi sublet the condo unit near Guillemard Road to the 33-year old prostitute for $2,300 a month.

However, he did not verify that she was not an immigration offender. She had been granted a 30-day visit pass when she arrived in Singapore on Aug 28 last year, but continued staying on unlawfully in Singapore to continue working as a prostitute.

She was arrested when police raided the unit on Feb 25. She had overstayed for 151 days.

In mitigation, Loi's lawyer Edmund Wong said Loi is remorseful, had co-operated fully with the police and is a first-time offender.

The maximum penalty for living on the earnings of prostitution is five years' jail and a $10,000 fine; and for harbouring an immigration offender, a $6,000 fine and 12 months' jail.

Loi will start serving his sentence on Friday (Oct 14).

This article was first published on October 10, 2016.
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