SINGAPORE - A man posing as a Shin Min Daily News food reporter has allegedly cheated a hawker at Pek Kio Market and Food Centre of $500, with both the hawker and the Chinese evening daily making police reports.
The incident happened on June 19 at the Pek Kio Seafood Delights stall at 41 Cambridge Road, Shin Min reported on Saturday (June 24).
Mrs Chen, 55, told Shin Min that a man with curly hair and a black top went to her stall claiming that he was a Shin Min food reporter, and wanted to sell her advertising packages.
"He said he was well-known and often appeared in food shows," said Mrs Chen. "I was a bit wary and asked for identification but he changed the subject and asked me - didn't I watch the TV shows?"
The man claimed he had interviewed six of the "170 seafood white beehoon stalls in Singapore".
"He said we were selected from the list and asked us if we wanted to be interviewed and said it would be free," said Mrs Chen. "I thought it wouldn't hurt so I accepted."
The man arranged for her to prepare three dishes and said he would return the next day with two other reporters.
He came alone, with a luggage bag and backpack, said Mrs Chen, and started promoting 10 culinary certificates.
"He sold us $2,900 packages and said the certificate would be valid for three years and be in newspapers, magazines and online," said Mrs Chen. "I felt it was expensive and regretted, but he said he would let me pay in instalments, but an instalment of $500 would mean the cert was valid for only three months."
Mrs Chen paid him $500 and the man took photos of one dish with his tablet and left.
He could not be contacted after that, and Mrs Chen made a police report.
The police on Saturday confirmed with The Straits Times that a report was lodged, and said investigations are ongoing.
On Friday, Shin Min posted a notice on its Facebook page saying that it would also file a police report.
"Shin Min would like to clarify that it did not send anyone to sell the above-mentioned packages, and hopes businesses would be on alert," it said in Chinese.
Journalists usually do not accept payment for reviews. ST pays for all its meals at eateries which it reviews.