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Where Are Our Bags and Money?

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Mon, Mar 02, 2009 The New Paper By Tay Shi'an LUXURY bags going for steep discounts. No shipping fees. Lured ...


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Old 02-03-2009, 06:53 PM   #1
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Post Where Are Our Bags and Money?

Mon, Mar 02, 2009
The New Paper
By Tay Shi'an



LUXURY bags going for steep discounts. No shipping fees.

Lured by these 'too-good-to-be true' claims, more than 60 online shoppers placed orders and transferred more than $30,000 to an online seller in the first two weeks of this month.

The seller and shoppers are all members of SingaporeMotherhood.com, an online forum for mothers where such organised bulk purchases (known as BPs) or 'sprees' are common.


Now, the buyers are crying foul. After receiving their money, someone claiming to be the seller's relative said on the forum that the seller and her husband had a car accident. The relative promised to refund everyone their money.

But so far, only six buyers have received refunds, after repeated e-mails, forum posts, and calls.

Suspecting a scam, the buyers banded together, compiling name lists and the total amount paid.

At least two police reports have also been lodged.

Said one of the buyers, a civil servant in her 20s who wanted to be known only by her nickname MoMo: 'We hope the police will do something about it, and the rest will get their money back.'

The seller, who called herself Lisa and used the user ID fromuswithlove, claimed she could get

30 per cent discount on Coach bags and 40 per cent off Kate Spade bags, and offered to make bulk purchases for others. The offer was listed on 2 Feb.

She claimed she was going to the US, and her husband worked for a US airline, so she had no baggage limits and would transport the bags for free.

All she would earn was a handling fee of US$10 ($15) to US$35, depending on the cost of the bag.

Lisa got such an 'overwhelming' response that she stopped taking orders and accepting money transfers to her POSB account after two weeks.

The orders were between $63 and $2,947.

Then came the shocking post from 'Angelina', who claimed to be Lisa's sister-in-law. She said the couple got into an accident in the US on 21 Feb.

The buyers were concerned - until a sharp-eyed buyer saw that Lisa was still posting replies on

22 Feb. Another received an e-mail on 23 Feb.

That's when the buyers started asking for proof of the accident, like a bill, medical report, or a picture from the hospital.

Or, a picture of all the bags, since Angelina claimed Lisa had already bought them, and their house in the US was now 'full of bags'.

They also threatened to make police reports.

Angelina then wrote that she would help return all the bags to the shops and give everyone a refund.

She also gave some buyers the handphone number of 'Julia', who claimed to be Lisa's sister.

Six buyers, who had each bought bags for $1,000 or more then got full refunds. MoMo, who was one of them, got back all her money, almost $1,700.

Ink, 32, a designer, also got her $1,000 back.

But both women still believed it was a scam.

MoMo told The New Paper: 'There were just so many discrepancies she was not able to address.'

Added Ink, who also declined to give her real name: 'I think maybe she regret already, it's not a (small) amount. We didn't know so many people ordered, until we listed (the names) out.'

MoMo said that she went with two other buyers on Thursday night to make a police report.

While her name is not on the report as she had already got a refund, she also gave information to the police. She said: 'I heard there were others who made police reports on the same night.'

Huge amounts

Mr Ng Chin Leng, founder of the company Tian Dot Com, which runs SingaporeMotherhood.com, also filed a police report yesterday, and encouraged affected members to do the same.

He said the company had provided the police with the scanned identification card of the seller.

It's standard procedure for the website to get this from all bulk purchase sellers before they are allowed to post on the forum.

The company also provided the bank account number the seller used to receive the payments.

Police confirmed Mr Ng's report was made, and he had been advised of his legal options.

Mr Ng said some 3,000 BPs were organised by SingaporeMotherhood forum members last year.

To his knowledge, there were only two police cases arising from these in the same year.

MoMo said she has been shopping online for the past four years, and this is the first time she has seen an alleged scam involving such huge amounts.

She said she had come across only one previously, but it involved less than $20, and this was eventually refunded.

She said: 'It's people like that who give online shopping a bad name.'

In 2006, a 24-year-old man was arrested after he ran away with thousands of dollars from car forum enthusiasts. He had claimed he could get car accessories at low prices in similar bulk purchases.


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Old 08-03-2009, 11:30 AM   #2
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Default Online bulk purchase scam: Woman arrested

Sat, Mar 07, 2009
The Straits Times
By Chua Hian Hou



A WOMAN suspected of having cheated over 60 online shoppers has been arrested. The 27-year-old was picked up by police last Friday and is out on bail while investigations are on, said a police spokesman.


Using the online monicker Lisa, she rallied those using the popular parenting website Singapore Motherhood to participate in a bulk purchase of Coach and Kate Spade handbags.

She claimed to have special connections in the United States who could give her steep discounts on the bags, and said shipping was free because her husband was an airline pilot.

But those involved claimed that after collecting over $30,000 last month from over 60 buyers, she allegedly became uncontactable.

Ordering in bulk online, commonly known among netizens as sprees, has become a fixture on local online forums. Buyers pool their orders to qualify for bulk discounts from Internet merchants and then split the cost of shipping the goods to Singapore. Bulk-purchase organisers like Lisa usually charge an administrative fee for their efforts.

After she allegedly became uncontactable, a new user calling herself Angeline appeared on the Singapore Motherhood forum, claiming to be Lisa's relative.

She announced that Lisa had been injured in a car accident, but would refund the money eventually. Angeline claimed that several refunds had been made and warned buyers against kicking up a fuss or she would stop giving them out.

But most of the online shoppers did not buy her story and went to the authorities.

As at press time, the police had received 60 complaints.

Singapore Motherhood's administrator Ng Chin Leng has also lodged a report and given the police information about Lisa, including her bank account number and a copy of her identity card; he also informed the police about some 'inconsistencies' that turned up following an internal investigation at the website.


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