SINGAPORE: A Grab driver has shared a stunning account of how he was allegedly scammed of $172,000 – in the form of $67,000 in cash and ownership of his car worth $105,000 – by a salesman at popular automobile dealer CarTimes, in a Facebook post that is trending online.

The driver, Ng Poh Leng, took to the Complaint Singapore Facebook page and said that his ordeal began on 25 April when he visited the Automobile Megamart @ Ubi, #01-07, hoping to find a new car to trade his old one. He had his eye on the Toyota Voxy car model.

Although the dealership did not have the specific vehicle he was looking for, Mr Ng encountered a salesman named Chan Chee Ken, also known as Ken Chan, who worked for CarTimes Automobile.

Two days later, Ken contacted Mr Ng via WhatsApp and offered to show him an alternative vehicle, a Toyota Noah, for viewing. Mr Ng, initially hesitant as it was not his first choice, agreed due to the non-obligatory nature of the offer. He deposited $10,000 by scanning a QR code provided by Ken.

On 28th April 2023, Mr Ng changed his preference to a Toyota Yaris Cross and expressed his willingness to pay the full amount in cash to avoid taking up a loan. Ken met him, voided the previous agreement, and issued a new one.

After some discussions, Mr Ng transferred an additional $50,000 via Ken’s UOB bank account number. Ken assured him the car would be ready for collection before 22nd May 2023, and they planned to exchange vehicles at CarTimes’ Ubi branch.

However, on 22nd May, the day scheduled for the vehicle collection, Ken informed Mr Ng that the car was not yet ready due to a port delay and pending inspection by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). He was assured that the car would be ready on the 25th of May and agreed to postpone the collection to 30 May since he was going overseas for a week.

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Mr Ng became concerned when his attempts to contact Ken during his tour went unanswered. Upon returning, he visited CarTimes’ office and was referred to the sales manager.

To his shock, Mr Ng discovered that CarTimes had no record of the payments he had made, nor had the ownership of his trade-in vehicle been transferred to them. The sales manager revealed that Ken had altered the agreement before submission, and it appeared that Kent had sold Mr Ng’s vehicle elsewhere. Distraught and confused, Mr Ng promptly filed a police report.

On 1 June, Mr Ng met with CarTimes’ Managing Director, Eddie Loo, hoping for an update or an apology. However, the meeting provided little solace, as Mr Loo referred to a sales agreement clause stating payments above $3,000 should be made by check or cashier’s order payable to CarTimes Automobile Pte Ltd.

Mr Ng expressed disappointment and felt that CarTimes was deflecting blame onto him, despite their salesman being involved in the scam. He said:

“What was the meet up even for? Just for Car Times to tell me that they have zero part to play in this and to insinuate that it is my fault and due to my negligence, even though we both know that I am not the only one and there are other customers that have fallen victim to this?

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“Is the man that scammed me not your staff? I trusted your company and merely followed the instructions given by your salesman, and yet you have the audacity to turn this back on me? It was your salesman, carrying your company’s brand, who I trusted to do the transfer of the ownership of my car too.”

He lamented: “I never thought that this would happen to me, especially not with such a reputable company. Do I, as a consumer, as somebody who patronized your business deserve this? To have what happened to me treated so nonchalantly.

“Just when I thought there was nothing anybody could do to make me feel worse too. I am enraged, upset, disappointed all at once. I feel betrayed by the company I have trusted enough to patronized. I thought I was careful, or perhaps prejudiced in a way, to go for well-renowned dealerships than smaller ones.

“Some people may even say that I should have been more cautious and checked on my part but this would be something you would never expect to happen to you. Especially when you’re dealing with company that has multiple big-shots, influencers, celebs and what-nots as their brand ambassadors.”

Mr Ng lodged an additional complaint against those involved for trading his car without honouring the agreement he signed.

CarTimes, meanwhile, addressed the issue in a statement on Sunday (11 June) and indicated that Mr Ng might not be the only customer duped by its employee Ken Chan.

The company said it discovered in May that Ken “allegedly engaged in fraudulent activities that violated our company’s principles (and possible a criminal offence).”

Ken allegedly approached customers and offered unauthorised trade-in services before requesting customers to transfer payments due to the company into his personal accounts and misappropriating those funds.

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Asserting that Ken also misrepresented that his actions were done on behalf of the company, CarTimes said: “We are deeply troubled by this situation and want to make it clear that CarTimes did not authorise or condone any of his alleged actions.”

CarTimes added that it promptly lodged a police report and initiated an internal investigation as soon as it discovered what Ken was doing. As for how it is dealing with Mr Ng, it said:

“In the meantime, we are assisting the affected customer in recovering their funds with the support of our panel insurer and we are actively working with two identified affected customers to provide temporary resolution while the investigation is ongoing.”

The company added that it sought legal advice and said it would not provide further comment as investigations continue.

CarTimes said, “We understand that some of you may have concerns regarding your past or upcoming purchases. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any clarification or have questions related to your purchase, trade-in, loan applications, or any other matter.”

It also reminded customers to ensure that all payments are made directly to the company and that vehicles are not traded to other individuals, even if they are told to do so by employees.

The prominent car dealer said: “We deeply value your trust in our company and assure you that we are taking this matter very seriously. Our priority is to resolve the situation swiftly, protect your interests, and prevent any recurrence of such incidents in the future.”