More claiming car dealer cheated them of deposits

More than 20 worried people gathered outside car dealership Volks Auto on Tuesday with sales agreements they had allegedly signed with the company. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
More than 20 worried people gathered outside car dealership Volks Auto on Tuesday with sales agreements they had allegedly signed with the company. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Mobile chat group draws over 80; total sum paid more than $1.5 million

More people are now claiming they were cheated by car dealership Volks Auto after it was reported on Monday that the parallel importer had been shuttered since Saturday, with the boss nowhere to be found.

A WhatsApp chat group started on Monday doubled to more than 80 participants yesterday.

Customers said they had paid deposits of $20,000 to $30,000 on average but had yet to get their vehicles. Business owner Tan Poh Yong, 48, paid $44,000 for a Porsche in July.

IT systems integrator K.K. Lo, the de facto organiser of the WhatsApp group, said 57 buyers had given him their details as of 8pm yesterday and that 51 had made police reports. The total sum paid by the 57 amounts to more than $1.5 million.

Attempts to contact the owner of the car dealership, which was registered in April, were unsuccessful. Many claimants said they got a voice mail message when they called Mr Alvin Loo last week, but that the cellphone has now been turned off.

At least three said they managed to contact a salesman, known to them only as Andrew. According to Mr Tan, Andrew sent him a text saying his boss would be back in Singapore "this week to settle all customer car issues as promised". Andrew also said the police had already contacted his boss.

More than 20 worried customers showed up at Volks Auto's showroom in MacPherson Road yesterday with sales agreements they had allegedly signed with the company, which claimed to import a variety of makes, including Mercedes, Toyota, Porsche and Honda.

At about 11.30am, the Whatsapp group chat went into a frenzy when businessman Richard Lee, 61, told everyone there was a man trying to take away the last car in the showroom, a white Bentley. Members were worried that the only visible Volks Auto asset might be taken away and they would lose all possibility of compensation. Police were then called in to assist.

The Straits Times arrived to find police talking to a handful of claimants, including Mr Lee and others clutching news clippings and their sales agreements.

The man who was purportedly there to take the car away was identified by a namecard sent to the chat group as Gavin Neo, sales director at DTZ Property Network.

Mr Neo told The Straits Times he wanted to check if the car was still there as it belonged to a friend, but declined to elaborate.

Police were overheard advising anxious newly arrived buyers to file reports.

The residential address used by Mr Loo to register his business had its blinds drawn.

kxinghui@sph.com.sg