By Shaffiq Alkhatib
It Is supposed to be a car rental company.
But the woman who took the call refused to reveal the whereabouts of its office. Instead, she claimed that she would SMS the exact location once a reservation has been made.
And the name of the company she gave The New Paper turned out to be one that belonged to a now-defunct firm which specialised in repairing electrical appliances.
Perhaps the woman was indeed running a legitimate business.
But the way she runs it definitely raised a red flag.
And rightly so.
About two months ago, a former coffee shop assistant was hauled to jail for cheating 20 people in a car rental scam between Aug 27 to Sept 1 last year.
Ngiu Ah Peng, 39, will spend 54 months behind bars for scamming the victims by offering bogus Hari Raya car rental packages.
His victims had paid between $200 and $780 as deposits.
But they later found Ngiu's company closed when they showed up to collect their vehicles.
With Hari Raya Puasa around the corner, it is timely that the police have advised the public to be vigilant against similar cheating cases. (See report at right.)
Yesterday, by posing as a potential customer over the phone, TNP responded to several car rental advertisements.
While most are legitimate companies that are registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, the national regulator of business entities, two seemed to be rather dodgy.
The woman who declined to reveal the location of her company said that it has cars available for rent at between $750 and $850 a week. And customers would have to pay a deposit of up to $300 per vehicle.
She became evasive when asked about the kinds of cars available.
"If you are coming, let me know so I can prepare the cars for you. Then I can SMS you the addresses," she said.
TNP asked Mr Jeffrey Ee, the general manager for Alpine Car Rental, about the woman's arrangement and he advised caution.