Sim Lim crowdfunding campaign organiser gets up to 50 requests to use donations

Pix of Vietamese tourist, from left, Mr Pham Van Thoai and Mr Gabriel Kang at Changi Airport before Mr Pham's departure, Nov 7, 2014. Singaporean Gabriel Kang has received between 30 to 50 e-mails requesting to use the S$16,000 he raised to buy
Pix of Vietamese tourist, from left, Mr Pham Van Thoai and Mr Gabriel Kang at Changi Airport before Mr Pham's departure, Nov 7, 2014. Singaporean Gabriel Kang has received between 30 to 50 e-mails requesting to use the S$16,000 he raised to buy a new iPhone 6 for a Vietnamese tourist who was cheated in Sim Lim Square last week. -- PHOTO: GABRIEL KANG

SINGAPORE - Singaporean Gabriel Kang has received between 30 and 50 e-mails requesting to use the S$16,000 he raised to buy a new iPhone 6 for a Vietnamese tourist who was cheated in Sim Lim Square last week.

The requests came pouring in after the tourist, Mr Pham Van Thoai, 28, had declined last Friday to accept both the iPhone 6 that Mr Kang had bought for him and the money raised.

A video of Mr Pham, who had wanted to buy a new iPhone 6 for his girlfriend, pleading for a refund from errant retailer Mobile Air went viral last week, and sparked a crowdfunding effort via Indiegogo.

"Everyone thinks I am a superhero now, just because I made the effort to help one person," Mr Kang, 37, told The Straits Times on Monday evening. "They come to me with many requests, from finding jobs for them to helping pay for car repair works."

In one e-mail, an 85-year-old Austrian man begged Mr Kang to take pity on him as he was cheated of his savings in an investment; in another e-mail, a Vietnamese girl who said she was forced into working as a hostess at a Malaysian nightspot simply wanted a plane ticket home.

Mr Kang, who works at local tech start-up Sensory Robotics, said the e-mails were sent to both his work and personal accounts. His personal e-mail inbox has about 1,700 unread messages since the Sim Lim saga. He has replied to some of them.

"There are many people sending e-mails asking for money, but I can't help all of them," said Mr Kang, adding that at least S$3,000 will go to the charities chosen by Mr Pham.

Mr Kang said those asking for help must be victims of scams by retailers here. The crowdfunding effort ends on Thursday.

"All I wanted to do was to raise enough money to help someone," said Mr Kang. "Now people from all over come to me with their problems."