Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Online Casanova headed to jail for extortion

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A Winnipeg man was given a 90-day jail sentence this morning for his attempts to extort $150,000 from two British school teachers he met online.

Robert Li, 33, showed no emotion when Provincial Court Judge Carena Roller sentenced him to 45 days for each offence, to be served consecutively, followed by two years probation.

Roller had rejected Crown and defence submissions of non-jail sentences, saying a proper sentence had to show the community's repugnance with Li's actions.

Li had met the two women online in 2011, pretending to become romantically involved with each and promising to move to the UK.

The romantic bubble burst when he demanded the women pay him $150,000 or he would post nude videos and images the women had sent him.

When they balked, he told them he needed the money to pay off his father's gambling debts and who had been beaten by Asian gang members.

The scheme ended when the women, who didn't know each other, contacted British police, which in turn contacted Winnipeg police.

Li had used a false name with the women but when they agreed to pay him, he told them to send a money order using his real name.

Roller said the women believed they were involved in a caring relationship with a man promising to live with them.

"What Robert Li did with that trust was deplorable, despicable, and of course, criminal," Roller said. "These women were devastated and humiliated by his actions."

Li had pleaded guilty to the rare charge of extortion by libel. He had been laid off from his job at Investors Group at the time of his scheme and was living with his parents.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:34 AM CDT: corrects typo

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