On Sep. 13, 2023, the police arrested a 26-year-old man suspected of involvement in a case of cheating related to the sale of second-hand cars.
The Deceptive Advertisement
The story begins on Sep. 11, when the police received a report from a victim who claimed to have fallen victim to an online scam. The victim had come across an enticing advertisement on Carousell, a popular online marketplace.
The ad featured a Volkswagen Polo, a car known for its reliability and performance, at an unbelievably attractive price.
The victim wasted no time and initiated contact with the seller, identified as Chan Jia We. Chan was affable and cooperative, promptly responding to the victim’s inquiries and agreeing to the proposed selling price.
To facilitate further communication, Chan requested the victim to switch to WhatsApp. This is a common practice among online sellers, as it allows for quicker and more direct conversations. The victim complied, believing that this was a standard procedure.
The victim’s eagerness to seal the deal led to a pivotal moment. Chan informed the victim that a downpayment of S$40,000 was required to secure the car. Trusting the seller, the victim made the payment through a PayNow transfer to an alleged finance company.
However, as soon as the payment was made, Chan became uncontactable, leaving the victim in a state of bewilderment. The promised car remained undelivered, and the victim was left in limbo.
Investigators from Central Police Division managed to establish the identity of the suspect and on Sep. 13, they apprehended the 26-year-old man.
Preliminary investigations have hinted that this individual may be connected to other similar cases of cheating.
On Sep. 15, the suspect was charged with cheating. If found guilty, he could face imprisonment for up to 10 years and a substantial fine.
Safety First: Tips for Online Buyers
In light of this incident, the Singapore Police Force has issued an important reminder to the public: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. While online marketplaces offer convenience and a wide range of options, buyers must exercise caution. Here are some essential tips for staying safe when making online purchases:
- Research Extensively: Always research the seller and the product thoroughly before making a purchase. Look for reviews and ratings from other buyers.
- Verify Contact Information: Ensure that you have accurate and verified contact information for the seller. Avoid moving communication to other platforms unless necessary.
- Use Secure Payment Methods: Whenever possible, use secure and traceable payment methods. Avoid making large payments in advance.
- Meet in Person: If possible, arrange to meet the seller in person and inspect the product before making any payment.
- Trust Your Instincts: If a deal appears too good to be true or if the seller’s behavior raises suspicions, walk away from the transaction.