Funds raised to sponsor trip for couple

Funds raised to sponsor trip for couple

Funds raised for Vietnamese tourist Pham Van Thoai, who lost $550 as a result of questionable sales tactics by a mobile phone store at Sim Lim Square, will be used to sponsor an all-expenses- paid trip.

Mr Gabriel Kang, 37, who started the crowdfunding project, told The Straits Times that he will use the money to book flight tickets and a stay at a five-star hotel in Singapore for Mr Thoai, 28, and his girlfriend, and also to pay for the rest of their travel expenses.

But there is a hitch: Mr Kang has not been able to reach Mr Thoai. "I know people who are trying their very best to get in touch with him for me. If we cannot reach him or he absolutely refuses the money, we will help others who were scammed, provided that they show the evidence."

The Singapore Tourism Board, meanwhile, has come out to say that it will facilitate any necessary follow-up actions the Vietnamese visitor might wish to undertake.

Mr Thoai, a Vietnamese factory worker, lost the money in an iPhone 6 purchase at cellphone store Mobile Air on Monday.

His story - which ended with him in tears and kneeling in front of shop owner Jover Chew - went viral, infuriating netizens and bringing to light various aggressive sales tactics in the mall.

Mr Thoai's story moved Mr Kang so much that he decided to do something about it. The tech start-up employee began a crowdfunding project on Indiegogo which had raised over US$11,000 (S$14,200) by 4pm yesterday, just 24 hours after he started it.

To show Singaporeans' sincerity in wanting to do the right thing, and dispel any scepticism Mr Thoai may have of his intentions, Mr Kang wants to deliver the money personally.

He said he started the project out of "a normal human reaction", but was surprised at the huge reaction he has received.

This article was first published on November 7, 2014.
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