Serial stalker harassed girls after getting their info in fake surveys, filmed them with spyglasses

Samuel Devaraj
The Straits Times
Aug 30, 2023

A recalcitrant stalker, who filmed students near schools and pestered some of them for personal details, will return to prison after repeating his earlier offences of harassing young girls.

In one of the latest incidents, the court heard that Fong Poh Kuen had obtained the information of more than 500 female students in a single day by conducting a fake survey.

He also secretly filmed girls outside schools by wearing spyglasses – a pair of spectacles that contained pinhole cameras with a video-recording function.

The 46-year-old was on Wednesday sentenced to 18 months’ jail after pleading guilty to a total of 13 charges – three for illegally obtaining personal information, one for causing public nuisance and nine under the Protection from Harassment Act.

On Jan 8, 2020, while Anglo-Chinese Junior College was holding an open house for prospective students, Fong stood in a public area located between Buona Vista MRT and the school.

He had blank forms with him, and he told the students that they were for an education survey. Fong then used the data he collected to stalk three of them.

They included a 16-year-old girl, a recent secondary school graduate, who he messaged about a month later after her junior college application results were released.

Fong had asked her about her choice of schools, but when she realised he was the man who interviewed her in January, she grew paranoid and felt harassed. The victim then blocked his number.

His victims were students from a range of educational institutions, including Temasek Junior College, Tampines Meridian Junior College (TMJC), Dunman High School and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jeremy Bin said Fong had visited some of these schools to record video footage of the students, either by placing his phone in his breast pocket with the camera facing away from him, or by holding it in his hand at chest height.

These images were then hidden in a password-encrypted mobile application named Vault, which was disguised as a calculator app.

Fong had filmed uniform-wearing students from TMJC while standing near the bus stop opposite Pasir Ris Drive 1 on March 9, 2022, at about 9am. His behaviour was perceived as threatening by a student, who informed the school’s discipline master.

The prosecutor said Fong had harassed TMJC students on five other occasions between April 21, 2021 and March 9, 2022.

“As a result of the accused’s conduct, the management of TMJC informed all of its students, and their parents, to take precaution when entering or leaving school, as they feared for the students’ safety.

“The school then set up a practice for students to leave the school in pairs or groups,” said the prosecutor.

On his use of fake surveys, DPP Bin said Fong would lie to the students that he represented an educational institution or government body, and deceive them into believing that he was conducting the surveys on their authority.

He would often film the students with his spyglasses while conducting the surveys.

Fong would then stalk them by sending them text messages, and in some cases, keep them under surveillance by using the information he had collected.

“These acts caused the victims harassment,” said the prosecutor.

Sometime in November 2019, Fong approached one of his victims, a 19-year-old girl from Temasek Junior College, while she was having breakfast in Bedok South Food Centre, which is near the school.

Fong asked her if she was applying to university soon, and requested that she fill in a survey form.

When the victim asked him about the purpose of the survey, he informed her that he was an NTU student, implying that he was conducting the survey on the authority of the institution.

After she gave him her personal information, as well as the university courses she intended to apply for, Fong repeatedly sent messages to her asking about the outcome of her applications.

This went on from March 21, 2020 to June 6, 2020.

DPP Bin said the victim initially responded, but then became suspicious of Fong, who had refused to reveal information about himself when asked.

As a former student of NTU himself, Fong still had access to his alumni account. He used it to check if she was registered in the university’s system, which contained a directory of its students’ names, e-mail addresses, and user identification details.

After finding the victim’s user details in the directory, he contacted the victim and told her he knew she was enrolled in the university and had her NTU details.

The victim then made a police report.

This happened soon after Fong finished serving a prison sentence for harassing other students. He had been convicted of similar offences on Oct 1, 2019, where he was sentenced to three months’ jail and a fine of $8,000. His sentence was backdated to Aug 8,2019.

On Wednesday, DPP Bin asked the court to sentence Fong to 18 months’ jail. He said while the incidents might appear to be minor intrusions, given the young age of the victims, the harm caused to each one was not negligible.

He described Fong as a recalcitrant offender who targeted some of the same schools after being released from prison.

At least 22 police reports were filed by different members of the public between June 6, 2020 and Aug 31, 2022.

The prosecutor said that officers from four different land divisions had spent more than 600 hours conducting investigations because of Fong’s criminal conduct and lack of cooperation with the authorities.

The Straits Times

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