A gang which tried to blackmail a businessman out of $38 million in a scam involving an underaged girl and a piece of tissue paper was guilty of one of the 'ugliest crimes', a judge said yesterday. Mr Justice Peter Nguyen made the comments in the Court of First Instance as he jailed the gang, which included a 15-year-old girl. The name of the victim had been suppressed throughout the proceedings after Mr Justice Nguyen ruled that identification would allow the blackmailers to destroy the victim's reputation. He said the law regarded blackmail as among the 'ugliest crimes' and the equivalent of 'the murder of the soul'. 'Blackmail is a very serious offence especially when the amount demanded is as large as in this case,' Mr Justice Nguyen said. Prosecutor Liu Yuen-ming had told the court that the ringleader, Tsoi Tsz-wan, 25, decided to blackmail Mr X by exploiting his sexual tastes. He obtained the help of Wong Hoi-lan, 21, Wong Chun-kit, 28, and a girl then aged 13 years and 10 months. Her identity has been suppressed. The court heard the girl performed a sex act on the businessman in a karaoke room on January 22 last year and left carrying a tissue containing a sample of his semen. Moments later, Wong Hoi-lan and Wong Chun-kit, posing as the girl's aunt and uncle, burst in and accused him of molesting her. A demand of $10 million was made for the tissue. Mr X talked the sum down to $40,000 - but was given a fake tissue sample. The gang again contacted Mr X around February 20 but the businessman slammed down the phone. Three days later, Wong Hoi-lan filed a rape report. Mr X was arrested on April 23, but never charged. Upon his release, the gang demanded $38 million. After he refused, they called a press conference to air the rape allegation and some newspapers identified Mr X by his surname. Mr X complained to police on May 22 and the gang was arrested. The genuine tissue was recovered from Wong Hoi-lan's home. Tsoi pleaded guilty to the $10 million extortion bid, the theft of $40,000, as well as the $38 million extortion bid. He was jailed for six years and eight months. Wong Hoi-lan received a sentence of two years and two months for the same charges after she also pleaded guilty. Wong Chun-kit was jailed for four years. He had pleaded not guilty to demanding the $10 million and the theft of $40,000 but was convicted. The girl, now 15, admitted the same two charges and was sent to a rehabilitation centre.