Reports filed against private-hire driver for $160k unpaid loans, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Reports filed against private-hire driver for $160k unpaid loans

The police are investigating a private-hire vehicle (PHV) driver after he allegedly borrowed tens of thousands of dollars from other drivers and did not pay them back.

These drivers, who have filed a number of police reports against Mr David Lee for these unpaid personal loans, said Mr Lee would approach them asking for personal loans for his confectionery business.

Mr Lee, who is also known also by his Facebook moniker “Tam Jiak Shawn”, is a recognised figure in Singapore’s private-hire vehicle (PHV) driver community online. He made the news last year after he organised a Facebook contest where he gave away a hotel stay to the driver who could make the most money in a day.

A 42-year-old part-time PHV driver, who wanted to be known as Mr Huang, said he has spent four months trying to get back the $16,000 that he loaned Mr Lee.

Mr Lee had approached him in mid-January, claiming he had a confectionery business, and needed money to fulfill a large order for hampers during the Chinese New Year period.

“I readily loaned him the money, because he was so active in the PHV driver community online. He seemed quite selfless, and was actively contributing,” Mr Huang said.

He added that Mr Lee has only repaid him $6,000.

He made a police report, which The Straits Times has seen, on May 17. The police confirmed that apart from Mr Huang, multiple reports have been lodged and investigations are ongoing.

Mr Huang realised there were other drivers like him when he saw a Facebook post on May 15 by someone looking for Mr Lee.

More PHV drivers have since come forward with complaints about Mr Lee, and a WhatsApp group chat was created with about 15 people in all.

The group estimates that the unpaid loans amount to over $160,000.

According to Mr Huang, Mr Lee had promised interest on the loans of about 18 to 20 per cent, but also said many drivers decided to help Mr Lee because he was a helpful member of the PHV community.

For instance, he would mentor newer PHV drivers and recommend car washes that provided discounts, said Mr Huang.

In some cases, Mr Lee would allegedly claim to be a shareholder of Aurora Soft, a start-up developing a new ride-hailing app called Beep Beep, and seek out money which he claimed would be invested in the platform.

Mr Sophian Abdullah, a director at Aurora Soft, said PHV drivers had told him at a launch event on April 16 for Beep Beep’s app that Mr Lee allegedly claimed “to be a shareholder in the firm” in order to get loans from them.

“He had been asking for money, which he said was needed to pay for the buffet and venue, although this was untrue,” said Mr Sophian.

It led Beep Beep to publish a note on its Facebook on May 17, saying that it was not affiliated with any individuals seeking investments on its and its parent company’s behalf.

Mr Sophian said he had loaned Mr Lee money on two occasions - a $10,000 loan in April supposedly to help Mr Lee’s kueh lapis business, and $1,050 on May 21 because Mr Lee said he could not pay the rental fee for his car.

The business loan was meant to help a friend out, as Mr Lee had been active in providing feedback on Beep Beep’s app, said Mr Sophian.

He added that he loaned Mr Lee the second sum, even after reports of unpaid loans from other drivers had surfaced, so Mr Lee could keep driving and repay the drivers he had borrowed money from.

When contacted, Mr Lee said he had not scammed anyone, and added that he has made plans to repay those affected.

But he declined to give details about the repayments, and also did not answer questions about why he had asked for money.

“I just want to clear everything and let the matter rest in peace,” he said.