Singapore

Man accuses Peninsula Plaza shop of trying to scam maid of old laptop, police investigating


Was it a scam?

When a maid tried to collect her laptop at a Peninsula Plaza shop, she was told someone else had already collected it on her behalf, even though she could see it in the shop.

It was only when her employer, Stomp contributor Edwin, intervened that they were able to get the laptop back.

He told Stomp: “The laptop belongs to me. I lent it to my helper because she is taking up courses to improve her computer skills.

“On May 15, my helper went to this shop at Peninsula Plaza to seek installation service of Microsoft Office. She was given a handwritten receipt and was told to come back one to two weeks later for collection.”

Edwin’s helper received a message to collect the laptop on June 12.

The Stomp contributor said: “My helper went down and was told that someone had collected the laptop on her behalf, so it is missing, but she managed to spot the laptop in the shop. But the shop owner kept insisting the laptop was not hers, then shouted and chased her away.

“My helper was left helpless and gave me a call to seek help.”

He said that he was unaware that his helper needed Microsoft Office on the laptop and was recommended to go to the shop. He found out only when she called.

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Edwin continued: “Over the phone, the owner asked me for the IMEI number and specs of the laptop so that he can ‘hack’ the ‘lost’ laptop and delete or retrieve my important files.”

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IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. It is a 15-digit number unique to every device.

Edwin told Stomp: “This is when he mentioned responsibility. Since it was lost and he would refund whatever secondhand value there was based on the laptop specs.

“I replied, ‘How can you retrieve the important files if the laptop is missing?’ He said he had a way. So I felt there was a potential scam going on and told the shop owner I would call him back in five minutes.”

The Stomp contributor, who said he is a double major graduate in cyber forensics and IT business, felt that this was a “red flag”.

He added: “I decided not to call back because the shop owner couldn’t speak proper English and his reasons were very contradictory.”

Instead, the Stomp contributor went to the shop in person. He said he was there within 30 minutes and got into a verbal dispute with the shop owner.

Edwin recounted: “I told the shop owner nicely to return my laptop, but he kept insisting on evidence such as IMEI number. Who on earth can remember the IMEI number and 10-year-old laptop information such as programs installed?

“Next, he kept arguing and the scene became louder with both of us giving reasons and demands.

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“The shop owner asked me for the name of the laptop. I gave the name of my cousin who last used the laptop. I noticed the laptop couldn’t even operate due to low battery, but he sort of ‘verified’ that way without actually turning on the laptop.”

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According to the Stomp contributor, after seeing a video was being taken of their interaction, the shop owner handed back the laptop.

“So I walked straight out without a word,” said Edwin. “All I want was my laptop back as it had been away for almost one month.”

He said Microsoft Office was not installed on the laptop when he got it back and no payment was made. “I soon installed MS Office for my helper right after this incident,” he said.

Asked for comment on the incident by Stomp, the shop owner said: “Not interested. Sorry.”

Responding to a Stomp query, police confirmed that a report was lodged and investigations are ongoing.



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