Zi char stall owner scammed out of $27,000 by 'customer' who ordered crates of wine, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Zi char stall owner scammed out of $27,000 by 'customer' who ordered crates of wine

A hawker in Ang Mo Kio fell victim to an F&B scam recently, losing over $27,000 to a “customer”.

Devid Retanasamy, who owns and runs Mr Blecky Seafood, a zi char stall at Block 603 Ang Mo Kio Ave 5, is well known by his patrons for speaking fluent Mandarin and other Chinese dialects – though he is Indian by ethnicity.

The 40-year-old cook told Shin Min Daily News how he had received an order on Aug 5 from a person who claimed to be an employee at a local primary school.

The person said they would be holding a celebration for some school staff members the next day and asked to reserve five tables for dinner. They also pre-ordered a number of dishes.

The customer also asked Devid to supply five crates of red wine for the event, and gave him a contact to place the order.

Later on, however, the customer stated that there would be more attendees and increased the number of crates to 20. The bill for the entire dinner, in addition to the dishes ordered, came up to $14,795.

After Devid sent the bill, the customer claimed to have transferred the money – but the amount was still not in the bank account, Devid said.

Later, the customer explained that they were still processing the paperwork for the invoice, which would require another two hours.

In the interim, the customer told Devid how they were very pleased with his good service and wished to host another dinner on Aug 7 at the coffee shop. Devid was then instructed to purchase another 16 crates of wine for the event.

When Devid was about to share the revised bill with the customer, however, he found that the messages between them, as well as those with the wine supplier had been deleted. 

Devid told Shin Min that he lost some $27,000 as a result of the scam. This included the 36 crates of red wine, totalling $18,000, as well as the purchase of ingredients which came up to $9,000. 

"The person ordered items such as crabs, which are not cheap and require pre-ordering. But in the end they didn't come so the ingredients were all wasted."

Devid said that, at the time, he considered only the prospective income from the deal, and did not suspect that it could all be a scam.

"The customer's mobile phone number was local and the red wine supplier also provided an invoice which looked legitimate, so I believed them," he said.

Devid revealed that he is now in a difficult situation as he still has to pay his employees' salaries and rent.

“By speaking out on this issue, I hope others won't be cheated like me," he said, adding that he has made a police report. 

According to Shin Min, a statement issued by the police in December 2022 has called for businesses to be wary of such scams.

The owners of Outram Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha as well as Tan Ser Seng Herbs Restaurant have also told Shin Min that they were victims of similar scam calls in the past.

hawkerCoffee shopSCAMS