Some couples who signed up for packages with a popular wedding company were shocked last Saturday when they saw an advertisement stating that a long-time employee of the firm was no longer working there.
Lagun Sari Wedding & Catering in Joo Chiat had taken out an advertisement in Berita Harian to say that Mr Sunato Zaidi was no longer with it, and that no transactions should be conducted with him.
Mr Sunato was dismissed by the company on Aug 19, the company's general manager, Ms Peggy Lee, told The Straits Times.
Mr Sunato is under investigation, the police told ST.
While the company and the police did not say what he is being investigated for, clients of Lagun Sari said they were told by the company that Mr Sunato had allegedly pocketed the deposits of clients.
Ms Siti Fadilah, 26, an interior designer who is getting married next April, called Lagun Sari last Saturday and found out that Mr Sunato, her wedding planner, had been fired. She said she was told that he had allegedly taken $5,000 of her $7,000 deposit and that more than 100 customers were affected.
About 50 affected customers have since joined a WhatsApp group created by Ms Fadilah.
Ms Fadilah said Lagun Sari clients had received letters from the management stating how much they had paid. When the sums did not tally, Mr Sunato told clients to ignore the letters, she said.
"He said he knew what he was doing and convinced us not to worry. We trusted him so much."
She said Lagun Sari said initially it was not going to compensate her but changed its mind after she put up a post about the incident on Facebook, which included a video of a confrontation with Mr Sunato.
Last Saturday, after the notice was published, Ms Fadilah's fiance had bumped into Mr Sunato and confronted him about their missing deposit. Mr Sunato promised to explain the matter in a meeting with Lagun Sari the following week, but did not turn up, Ms Fadilah said.
Issues with Mr Sunato had surfaced earlier, said another client.
Mr Muhammad Ridzwan, 28, a concierge, said he booked a wedding package through him in December 2013. He paid $4,500 to secure a function room on the third floor of Lagun Sari's building for his wedding two years later in 2015.
But in 2014, he got a letter saying the location was not available on the date he had wanted.
Another couple got the venue on the date though they had paid after he did, he said.
"He took the deposit and didn't submit the booking. This should have set alarm bells ringing among the management then," said Mr Ridzwan, who got a full refund.
Ms Lee said the company will deal with affected clients case by case. She advised them to a make police report and make an appointment with the company.