By Serene Luo & Teh Joo Lin
A YOUNG woman hawked branded accessories and handbags at bargain prices on her blogshop.
But Diana Koh, 21, never delivered the bags, even though she pocketed over $1,000 in total from close to 40 women who responded to her online offers of bags, jewellery casings and make-up pouches.
Yesterday, Koh was jailed for three months for cheating 37 victims in March.
A district court heard how one of her victims had ordered bags from her via the website, k-sayuri.blog spot.com
The site has since been shut down.
In early March, the victim had been drawn to the website while surfing the Internet and ordered five bags. Koh promised to mail them to her home.
The woman went on to transfer $87 to Koh's bank account but the bags never came. Her subsequent attempts to contact Koh were unsuccessful.
When contacted, another victim, a 24-year-old who bought a handbag from Koh for $19, said other sellers had priced it at almost $50. She said Koh claimed she was selling it at a discount as she had to migrate to Australia soon.
Asked if she had smelled a rat, the woman said: 'Yes, I did suspect at first. But human beings are greedy and since it's not a huge sum, I decided to try my luck.'
Koh is not the only one who has been jailed for an online scam involving the purchase of branded goods. In March this year, the police arrested a woman who went off the radar after collecting over $30,000 online from buyers to make bulk purchases of branded Coach and Kate Spade handbags. She was later jailed.
With Internet shopping becoming commonplace, individuals have started to sell goods through postings on auction websites or advertising on their own blogs. Online shoppers said not all sellers can be trusted.
Ms Irish Ng, 25, was cheated a couple of years ago when she saw a blouse for sale at a blogshop.
She transferred money to the seller's bank account, but the item never arrived.
'Back then, I was young and took it as a lesson learnt. But I think such cases are very common now,' she said.
Irked by the prevalence of the scams, the private tutor started a website, www.safeblogshopper.com, to inform online shoppers about dishonest sellers.
She compiles information she gets from Internet forums and identifies the dishonest sellers who have been named by online shoppers. She came up with the idea after seeing more complaints of cheating being posted on forums.
'I realised that different forums would talk about different scams, and they may not cross-reference them. It wouldn't be easy for someone to learn about other potential scam shops,' she said.
Popular online payment processor PayPal offers those who use its service some form of insurance.
It has drawn up policies to allow users to file claims against those sellers which they feel are dishonest, for example, in instances when the goods do not arrive.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.