SINGAPORE: Local private-hire vehicle operator TADA has revealed that the laptop a passenger left behind in a TADA driver’s car has been returned to the police, after the passenger accused the driver of holding her laptop hostage for hours, for a ransom of $100.

The passenger, local teacher Juliet Isabella, took to the Complaint Singapore Facebook page on Tuesday (May 23) to share her ordeal after she accidentally left her laptop behind following a ride with TADA driver Mr Abdul.

Ms Juliet said that she contacted Mr Abdul to inquire about her laptop’s whereabouts after she realised she had left it behind, only to be shocked when he demanded money in exchange for its return. The driver allegedly asked her how much she was willing to pay him for “safeguarding” the laptop and for his time.

Ms Juliet initially offered $10 but, dissatisfied, Mr Abdul then allegedly asked for her phone number to further negotiate the amount. During their Whatsapp interaction, Mr Abdul even described the contents of the laptop bag, indicating that he had opened it.

Feeling blackmailed, Ms Juliet contacted TADA Singapore for assistance. However, the only response she allegedly received from the TADA specialist, Mr Weijie, was to “make a police report.”

Ms Juliet said that she made multiple attempts to reach the driver via phone calls over the next four hours and fearing for the safety of her personal data, finally agreed upon a fee of $50 for the safekeeping of the laptop. She wrote:

“I call his Handphone twice, only have him telling me “you give me money $100 , then you will have your laptop back. Your laptop is expensive, you should pay me money for safekeeping your laptop .” He never even wanna share with me his whereabout so I can travel over to him collect my laptop.

“My last call to him, Mr Abdul finalised on $50 “for safeguarding laptop fee” if not he will take “his own sweet time” to drop my laptop to a police station with no guarantee everything inside my laptop is safe.”

She added: “I’m very disappointed with Tada Singapore service with their only response to me, what the driver did is wrong , pls proceed to make a police report.”

Ms Juliet eventually decided to file a police report against the driver for attempting to extort money from her by holding her laptop ransom. She noted that from 4 pm to 8 pm, the driver refused to disclose his location, making it impossible for her to retrieve her work laptop without paying the demanded amount.

TADA has since confirmed that Ms Juliet contacted the company at 4.30 pm on the same day. The company said that the laptop was safely delivered to the police station by 9 pm, indicating that the driver held on to the laptop for five hours.

TADA emphasised that their app sends reminders to passengers before their private hire car arrives at the destination and urged passengers to pay extra attention to their belongings to avoid such incidents.