Perhaps our parents are right when they kept reminding us not to immediately trust strangers we meet on the Internet.
It has been a rough couple of weeks for Melanie Phang, a 27-year-old travel consultant based in Kuala Lumpur. What she thought was a new friendly relationship turned out to be one of the most stressful experiences of her life.
According to a report by The Star, Phang befriended a ride-sharing driver in January through the messaging platform WeChat. They kept in touch using WeChat “every now and then.”
Last May 26, Phang arrived at the airport from a business trip. She contacted her driver friend to fetch her at around 11:45 PM. Phang said they had dinner at the driver’s suggestion. He even “insisted on buying [her] food”even though Phang refused.
The driver also refused to accept payment for the ride.
Upon arriving home, Phang realised she forgot to get her bag from the car, so she called the driver immediately.
The driver responded and told her he will return the bag the following morning.
But, he never did. Melanie has not heard from since then. She said that the driver has already blocked her from contacting him on WeChat.
The driver used her credit card for two transactions which amounted to RM9,093.40 (S$2,974).
Phang’s bag contained US$5,000 (S$6,800) from a company cash advance, two credit cards, her passport, and her iPhone 6. She has already lost around RM25,000 (S$8,177) worth of valuables and money.
She tried to look for her driver ‘friend’ at his home, but he was not there. The driver’s mother said she could not contact him as well.
To make matters worse, Phang claimed that she is being extorted by another man on WeChat, telling her to send RM1,000 if she wants to get her passport. The man allegedly picked up her passport on Petaling Street and contacted her through WeChat, sending photos of her passport as proof.
Phang has reported the incident to local authorities and warned everyone to be careful of “similar incidents.”/TISG
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