SINGAPORE - A 39-year-old man, believed to be the one who pretended to be a journalist from Chinese evening paper Shin Min Daily News to purportedly sell advertising packages, was charged in court on Thursday (June 29) with cheating.
Malaysian Goh Ting Chee allegedly went to Pek Kio Market and Food Centre at Block 41A, Cambridge Road near Balestier Road, on June 22 and cheated Ms Tan Wang Tee, 57.
He is accused of pretending to be a Shin Min journalist to dupe her into giving him $500 as a deposit for a purported advertisement placement.
Last weekend, The Sunday Times reported that a man went to the same food centre on June 19 and pretended to be a reporter from the paper.
A hawker who was identified only as Mrs Chen, 55, said he had curly hair and was wearing a black top.
She added: "He said he was well known and often appeared in food shows. I was a bit wary and asked for identification but he changed the subject and asked me if I had watched the shows."
The man also claimed he had interviewed "six of the 170 seafood white beehoon stalls in Singapore" and that her stall had been selected from a so-called list.
Mrs Chen, who sells seafood soup, said :"He asked us if we wanted to be interviewed and said it would be free, I thought it wouldn't hurt so I accepted."
The man then arranged for her to prepare three dishes for the next day and said he would return with two other reporters for the interview.
However, he came back alone and started promoting culinary certificates.
Mrs Chen said: "He wanted to sell us a package worth $2,900 and said the certificate would be valid for three years, and would include publicity in newspapers, magazines and online (portals).
"I felt it was expensive and hesitated, and that's when he said he would let me pay in instalments. But an instalment of $500 would mean the certificate was valid for only three months."
Mrs Chen handed over the money, after which she said the man took photos of one dish with his tablet and left.
He could not be contacted after that and she made a police report.
Shin Min later posted a notice on its Facebook page, saying it would also alert the police.
It said in Chinese: "Shin Min would like to clarify that it did not send anyone to sell the above-mentioned packages, and hopes businesses will be on the alert."
The Straits Times and The Sunday Times pay for all their meals at eateries which they review.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, police said they received a report about the case on June 22.
Officers from Tanglin Division conducted their investigation and established the bogus journalist's identity.
They arrested him at Block 112, Bukit Purmei, on Tuesday (June 27).
Goh, who was unrepresented, was offered bail of $20,000.
He will be back in court on July 20.
Offenders convicted of cheating can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.