More than $50k raised for man who got cheated: 5 other examples of crowdfunding

Tan Soy Kiang, 70,  was allegedly swindled of his life savings by two women over 15 years. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER
Tan Soy Kiang, 70,  was allegedly swindled of his life savings by two women over 15 years. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - As of Feb 12, the Internet world has united to raise more than $50,000 for 70-year-old Tan Soy Kiang, who was allegedly swindled of his life savings by two women over 15 years.

He worked two jobs as a pump attendant and as a cleaner to pay off a "government debt" that he was led to believe that he owed. Even with two jobs, he had to borrow money from his sister and his neighbours to support himself.

On Feb 10, Mr Tan got reassurance from MP Hri Kumar Nair that he did not owe the government money. Mr Tan's niece, Ms Pamela Lim, 39, had gone with him to Mr Hri Kumar's meet-the-people session to seek help in getting subsidised rates for Mr Tan's mental evaluation.

Since his story was reported in the media on Feb 8, it has garnered sympathy and help. Such generosity is not rare in Singapore. Every time someone is in need, Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans alike would come forward to help generously.

Here are five other examples to restore your faith in humanity.

1. Pham Van Thoai, 28

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On Nov 3, 2013, Mr Pham, a tourist from Vietnam, had agreed to pay $950 for an iPhone 6 at Mobile Air, an electronics shop that had been blacklisted by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) for its questionable sales tactics.

The salesman then asked him for an additional $1,500 for warranty expenses. Mr Pham was told that if he failed to pay the additional amount, he would not only lose the $950 but also the new phone. Mr Pham, who was said to earn about $200 a month as a factory worker in his country, panicked and broke down in tears. He knelt down, pleading with Mr Jover Chew, owner of Mobile Air, to return his money. The police and Case had to intervene as well. Mr Pham's story went viral because of a video that was uploaded showing him on his knees, crying. An Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for him and get him the iPhone 6 was started, and it raised more than $16,000 in eight days. Mobile Air has since closed down.

2. Madam Pusparani Mohan, 32

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After her husband Chandra Mogan was killed in a freak accident in March 2012, Madam Mohan, a Malaysian, had been the sole breadwinner to their four young children. Both she and her husband were working as cleaners at Changi Airport when Mr Mogan was killed after a Chinese national hijacked a taxi and ran him down. Changi Airport collected donations for Madam Mohan. While she did not reveal the amount of donations at the time, it was reported a year later that she received almost $1 million in insurance payouts and donations from the public.

Unfortunately, she spent it all within a year. She said the money went to relatives, a holiday in Genting Highlands with her family, and a bad business investment.

3. Sudip Chandro Bhandro Joy, 36

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The Bangladeshi construction worker was the victim of an armed robbery, and due to his injuries, he was unable to work. He suffered bruises to his cheeks, nose and head and was on medical leave. He also said he could not feel anything in his upper teeth.

When interviewed in August 2012, he said he could eat only soft food. He also did not want to seek medical help, because treatment for his injuries had already cost him $2,000 at the time. He said that he wanted to send money home so that his wife could buy milk for their child. This Straits Times reporter, who wrote the story, received 150 e-mails inquiring on how to help him. Those who inquired were routed to SG Gives, a donation portal.

4. Cheng Teck Hock, 52

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In May 2012, Mr Cheng, a taxi driver, died after a Ferrari crashed into his taxi at the junction of Rochor Road and Victoria Street. The Ferrari, driven by Chinese national Ma Chi, was speeding at the time. Mr Ma and two others also died in the accident. A blog called www.lovechengfamily.wordpress.com was set up to raise funds for Mr Cheng's family. Even before the blog was set up, $170,000 had been donated by the public.

5. Goh Kah Keow, 74

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In July 2014, more than 70 readers of The Straits Times who saw the story on how Madam Goh was cheated of her life savings by con artists came forward to help. Most of them offered to donate money to the cleaner who was swindled of about $400,000 in cash and jewellery by five China nationals in November 2013. Besides offering cash - one couple sent a cheque for $1,000 - and groceries, five readers also said they wanted to pay for her massage sessions. They made the offer after they read that Madam Goh had rheumatic knees, which needed regular therapy that cost $40 per session. Madam Goh, who has never married, reportedly lived alone in a studio flat and led a frugal life.

jalmsab@sph.com.sg