He should have bought flowers.
A 25-year-old Hamilton man appeared in court yesterday facing extortion and voyeurism charges after police say he threatened to show a sex tape featuring him and his ex-girlfriend to her friends and family if she refused to see him again.
The pair met several months ago at an Internet chat room. He's from Hamilton; she's 21 and from a small Ontario town.
"Let's just say, it's a perfectly acceptable chat room," said Detective Sergeant Mike Campbell, head of the criminal investigation branch of the Hamilton police's central division.
Over several months, the pair e-mailed back and forth, and eventually became intimate. She broke off the relationship about three weeks ago.
That's when, police say, the man threatened to go public with a recording of the pair having consensual sex in his bedroom -- if she didn't have sex with him again.
Police say he secretly made the video using a webcam.
"There's an implied deterrent here," Det. Sgt. Campbell said. "Anyone can be tricked into thinking the computer sitting in their home isn't something that could leave them embarrassed, or compromised."
Fearful of the threat, the woman turned to Hamilton police.
Then she arranged to meet the man at the GO train station in downtown Hamilton. At the station on Sunday afternoon, police officers swooped in, arrested a man and seized a laptop. The computer contained the recording, police said.
"It's a crime to secretly record things and then publish them. I think that's a good law. It's particularly applicable here," said Det. Sgt. Campbell, referring to Section 162 (1) of the Criminal Code, which pertains to voyeurism and came into effect last year.
Ali Ashraf of Hamilton faces charges of extortion, voyeurism and distribution of voyeuristic recordings.
Kateryna Spiwak, a Toronto-based dating coach to singles of all ages, says most people who go on-line seeking relationships are normal. However, she tells her clients to screen out the "creeps" by looking for certain warning signs.
"When people try too hard, or move too fast, that's a big red flag," she said.
As for surviving a breakup, she says people who get dumped should realize that sometimes no amount of self-improvement or pleading can salvage a relationship. Threats are never a good idea, she says.
"The number one thing to realize is you can't make anyone love you, or take you back," she said. "It's up to the other person."
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