RSAF regular phished for women's social media login details to access their intimate images, gets jail

His lawyer argued that his crimes were "an act of mischief".

Daniel Seow | May 15, 2024, 06:49 PM



Pretending to be a "helpful netizen" who had spotted their pictures leaked online, an air force regular in Singapore sent his female victims messages with phishing links.

K Eshwaran, 26, would then access their accounts to obtain their intimate images for his own gratification.

He was sentenced to 11 months' jail on Wednesday (May 15) for his offences.

His victims cannot be named to protect their identities.

Phished 22 victims, pretended to warn them of leaked pics

Court documents indicated that from 2019 to 2023, Eshwaran sent phishing links to 22 victims to get login details for their social media or cloud storage accounts.

He would message them as a "helpful netizen" and inform them that their intimate images had been posted online.

To convince them, he would include a screenshot with a sexual caption, usually from a pornographic website, as the supposedly leaked image.

Eshwaran would then send over a phishing link, telling them that it would bring them to the site where their photos had been posted.

Instead, it brought them to a website where they would be tricked into entering their login credentials.

After gaining access to the victim's accounts, Eshwaran would search for intimate images of them to use for his own sexual gratification.

He targeted victims whom he knew in real life, or those whose images he had seen on an adult forum.

Once, Eshwaran targeted a female victim whom he knew had done modelling shoots.

He wanted access to photos where she was partially dressed or in lingerie.

Pretended to be women's lovers to ask for intimate pics

Eshwaran also used other methods to get the photos he wanted.

In some cases, he used a website to generate a list of possible login credentials for a victim's social media accounts.

He would then use trial and error to access their accounts.

In other cases, Eshwaran would gain unauthorised access to men's social media accounts.

Pretending to be the account holder, he would contact women whom he thought the man was intimate with, and ask for their intimate photos.

IP address tracked to his home

After realising they were being phished or that their accounts had been hacked, Eshwaran's victims lodged police reports.

In January 2023, Eshwaran was already under investigation for earlier cases of phishing.

However, he went after another victim while out on bail.

Eshwaran hacked into her Snapchat to get her intimate pictures, and then tricked her into clicking on phishing links so he could access her other accounts.

Police eventually traced the internet protocol (IP) address used to illegally access the victims' accounts to Eshwaran's house.

He pleaded guilty to 10 charges under the Computer Misuse Act on May 15.

Premeditated & sophisticated offences: Prosecution

The prosecution sought a deterrent sentence of 11 to 16 months' jail for Eshawaran, on account that his offences were "premeditated" and "sophisticated".

"The accused’s deceptions were calculated to exploit his victims’ fears that their intimate material had been leaked," the prosecution said.

The prosecution added that the accused's offences required an awareness of and ability to use illicit phishing tools, and that he "left close to no trace of his personal involvement", making the crimes "difficult to detect".

Eshwaran's defence lawyer asked for a lighter sentence on account that he was a first-time offender and said that his crimes were "an act of mischief, malicious though it may be", CNA reported.

The lawyer disclosed that the accused was a regular in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and served as an engineer.

He asked for the judge to consider it as a mitigating factor that the accused was "likely to suffer professional consequences as a result of his offences".

The lawyer also pointed out that in light of the offences, the accused's family had "come together" and that his parents had "taken him to task".

Judge deferred sentence for accused to settle personal matters

However, the judge agreed with the prosecution's sentencing position and noted that there were more aggravating than mitigating factors in the case.

The judge granted Eshwaran's request to defer his sentence so he can settle personal matters and help his wife, who just gave birth in early May.

He will start serving his sentence on Jun. 19.

Suspended from all duties since arrest: RSAF

In response to Mothership's queries, a Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) spokesperson said that Eshwaran, who holds the rank of Military Expert 1, was suspended from all duties following his arrest.

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will initiate further actions upon the conclusion of court proceedings, which may include discharging him from service, the spokesperson noted.

"The Singapore Armed Forces holds its service personnel to high standards of discipline and integrity. Service personnel who commit offences will be dealt with in accordance with the law," the spokesperson added.

Top image from Canva.