Internet has not made us safe from con artists. However, thanks to Internet, it is harder to keep scamming people. The frauds are exposed and shared faster. The backlash for them is also fierce.
On recent days the whole Singapore has been buzzing about one fishy store in Sim Lim Square (famous mall in Singapore for buying electronics and getting conned). The shop called Mobile Air first refunded $1000 dollars in coins to Chinese tourist:
Then they scammed Vietnamese tourist of his two-months worth of salary and made him beg and kneel with the refund:
These are not isolated acts and the store has gotten over 25 complaints in just three months. Mobile Air is also not the only shady operator at the same venue as news about other cheats has been reported.
Previously these outrageous acts would have been forgotten and maybe addressed by officials later or not. Enter the Internet. Now thanks to certain anonymous individuals this thing has been exposed and “the justice” is served.
There four important lessons to be learned about the whole incident:
1. If you have deal too good to be true. It usually is.
This serves as a reminder for all of us consumers.
If you are sold brand stuff (iPhone 6, Rolex Watches, etc.) at below the market prices, they are either fakes, stolen or there is some string attached. According to former Mobile Air worker, the scam with Mobile Air was to lure person with the best price. Then you sign a contract, which forces you to take an extra $1000 warranty. No one reads the fine print, but it still is a binding agreement. When you demand refund you are bullied to not get on it.
Mobile air supervisor compared these totally unforgivable tactics to chicken rice price difference in high-end hotel and food court (as if stall in Sim Lim Square is comparable to high-end hotel). In desperate attempt to justify this scam he likened it to upselling you jeans if you buy a top.
Pardon my French, but bitch, please.
2. Clever scam artists don´t draw attention to themselves
Mobile air is not the only dubious merchant in Sim Lim Square. If you want to keep doing your dirty deeds you better do it smoothly. If you refund 1000 dollars with coins and publicly humiliate people you are just begging to get caught eventually. Best (or worst depending on your viewpoint) deceptions are the ones you do not even realize that you are have been scammed.
3. Citizen punishment can be harsher than the capital one
The owner of the Mobile Air has been thoroughly exposed thanks to the troll site SMRT Ltd (Feedback). Basically they have collected enough info on him to do an identity theft (address, phone number, email, etc.) To see the whole scope of the activities, I recommend reading this full lowdown.
The guys (I assume they are guys) are really ripping him apart and based on their latest post, they will just keep going:
Citizen vigilantism is a double-edged sword. At its best it helps to bring justice to people when official organizations have failed the individual. At its worst it will activate Internet lynch mobs with incomplete information but a lot of hatred. With Jover Chew dude though, it reminds me of the old saying: you reap, what you sow. You can check how things unfold by following the hashtag #operationairkangkang
.4. It is now easier to be involved
Searching for dirt on wrongdoer is quite extreme way to find justice. What has really delighted me though is that Singaporeans have pledged over 10k for that poor Vietnamese guy to get him an iPhone 6 in Indiegogo
I just hope that this fundraiser is not a scam as well.