Tampines residents warned: Beware impostor 'grassroots leader' who asks to enter homes

Residents of a Tampines block told MP Baey Yam Keng that a suspicious man had asked to enter their homes.
Residents of a Tampines block told MP Baey Yam Keng that a suspicious man had asked to enter their homes.PHOTO: BAEY YAM KENG/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - He claimed to be a grassroots leader sent to "check her water pipelines".

But Mrs Hemlata Taneja, a 33-year-old housewife, grew suspicious when he demanded entry into her flat.

"He looked like a thief," she told The New Paper on Wednesday. "I was with my children when he came. We were very scared that day."

She was one of several residents of Block 417 on Tampines Street 41 to be approached by the unidentified man, who claimed to have been sent by Tampines GRC's Member of Parliament, Mr Baey Yam Keng.

Mr Baey warned Tampines residents to be on alert in a post on his Facebook page on Tuesday, after receiving complaints from affected residents at Monday's Meet The People Session.

"I wanted to warn my constituents to be vigilant and not to fall prey to those with ill intent," he told The New Paper on Tuesday.

Aside from alerting the public, he has also written to the Tampines Neighbourhood Police Centre, which he said is reviewing CCTV footage to identify the culprit.

Mrs Taneja requires no footage to recall the man's appearance.

"He wore blue jeans and a black T-shirt," she said, "and he had a blanket of hair."

Equally striking was the man's behaviour, which Mrs Taneja described as unusual and even aggressive.

"He came at around 6.30pm and looked at my house number," she said. "He wanted to come in. I told him 'No, everything is okay.' But he insisted. When I told him no, he started pushing at my gate."

The man eventually left. Although the incident happened last Sunday, she worries the man might return.

"He came back yesterday," she said. "He ran off quickly so I couldn't see his face, but he looked like the same man."

Madam Lim Beng Kiang, 54, had a similar encounter. This time, the man claimed to have been sent to check if she had "any complaints".

He was eloquent, she said, but something seemed to be amiss.

"He kept looking at his mobile phone and asked strange questions, like how many people were in the house. When I asked him for his identification or an authorisation letter, he said he'd send it in the mail."

Madam Lim had been at home with her daughter and three grandchildren when the incident occurred.

The man departed after Madam Lim denied him entry and she has installed a new lock on her gate.

"That man came and told me, 'You should lock your gate.' So I did," she said.

Real or impostor? How to tell

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mr Baey Yam Keng gave certain guidelines to help members of the public separate real Town Council members, public agents and grassroots leaders from would-be impostors.

According to Mr Baey, real Town Council members and public agents will:

Be in uniform

Be carrying proof of identity, usually a card with their photograph and an official logo

Grassroots leaders, as volunteers, have neither a uniform nor official identification, but there remain certain signs to look out for. Real grassroots leaders will never:

Ask to enter your homes

Ask for confidential information, such as your IC number

A final word of advice?

"If in doubt, call the police."