'Insect-checking' scammers bug HDB residents

Couple claiming to be from Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council said they were selling 'sofa insurance'

A couple of "insurance salespeople" knocked on doors in Block 267B Compassvale Link last Saturday, telling residents they were from Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council.

They said they were selling a "sofa insurance policy" and that the residents would have to pay the town council a fee to check their sofas for insects.

On the same day, an alert was posted on Facebook by Mr Roy Goh, Young People's Action Party chairman for Sengkang Central, warning people that it was a scam and urging them to spread the message.

On Tuesday, MP Zainal Sapari, chairman of the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council, posted an alert on Facebook, advising residents to be vigilant.

Of the 20 residents interviewed at the block on Tuesday, 17 said they had not heard of the scam, while two had seen Mr Goh's Facebook post.

Of the 20 residents interviewed at the block on Tuesday, 17 said they had not heard of the scam, while two had seen Mr Goh's Facebook post.

Only one resident, Ms Alice Tan, a director of a manufacturing company who lives on the eighth floor, had encountered the scammers.

Only one resident, Ms Alice Tan, a director of a manufacturing company who lives on the eighth floor, had encountered the scammers.

She had been vacuuming her home last Saturday morning when the couple, who appeared to be in their late 30s, visited her unit.

Ms Tan, 38, refused to engage in conversation with the woman - who spoke in accented Mandarin - andthe couple eventually left.

It was only on Tuesday that she found out what the scam was about, when a neighbour showed her Mr Goh's Facebook post.

Having received a phone call from parcel scammers two weeks ago, Ms Tan is now even more wary.

"It's always better to be careful. Even though these scam cases have been published in the newspapers, people still get cheated. It's very scary," she said.

Since last Saturday, several residents of Sengkang East and Punggol East have notified the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council of the scam. The town council has informed the police.

A spokesman for the town council advised residents who encounter the scammers to call the council or the police immediately.

She added that the town council will be putting up notices to remind residents to be vigilant and to report such incidents to the council and police immediately.

Punggol East MP Charles Chong said: "The faster we take action, the fewer the number of people who will be scammed."

Anyone with information related to such crimes can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000, or dial 999 for urgent police help.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2016, with the headline ''Insect-checking' scammers bug HDB residents'. Print Edition | Subscribe