Public donates $63,000 to man conned of CPF savings

A cheque for $63,000.

That was what petrol pump attendant Tan Soy Kiang, 70, received from Mr Dan Chen, 28, yesterday.

The amount was raised after Mr Chen, who works for an international school, learnt about Mr Tan's plight in The New Paper on Feb 9.

Mr Tan, who worked two jobs, is believed to have handed over his CPF savings and his monthly salary to two Singaporean women over the last 15 years.

They allegedly told him that the money, understood to be more than $400,000, was for a "debt" he owed the Government.

One of the two women was arrested and is out on police bail. The other is assisting the police with investigations.

While one admitted to cheating Mr Tan, the other maintained her innocence and claimed that she, too, had been conned.

Having read online then that people wanted to help, Mr Chen took the initiative and started a campaign on crowd-funding site Indiegogo to raise US$5,000 (S$6,800).

The fund grew rapidly, even attracting donors from as far as Hong Kong, Australia and the United States.

Mr Chen says he feels great as he can finally "relax a bit".

"Holding on to public fund is not easy because I have to be accountable to the donors," he adds.

Also present at Mr Tan's niece's house in Jalan Gembira was Mr Naing Maw, a representative of Silverline Mobile.

The company that creates apps for elderly smartphone users gave Mr Tan a smartphone after learning that he did not have one.


Its spokesman tells The New Paper on Sunday that the smartphone given to Mr Tan is preloaded with the app that can update his family with his location and well-being information and even send out emergency alerts.

Ms Pamela Lim, 39, a real estate agent, says her uncle recently resigned from his cleaning job and will be working only as a petrol pump attendant in the early shift.

"He held two jobs to pay off his so-called debt and on Thursday he fell because he was overly tired. He currently has fever and keeps vomiting. My mum took him to see the doctor," she says.

The $63,000 will go into his savings account and will be spent on medical bills.

Asked whether he still "owes" the government money, Mr Tan replies in Teochew: "No longer."

This article was first published on Mar 29, 2015.
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