Commentary: How I lost S$3,000 chasing a quick fix to a leaking wall


As they collected their tools to leave my flat after they’d patched up the wall, I asked if they’d be issuing me with a receipt. They said they couldn’t as the colleague in charge of that was on leave. It was then the alarm bells in my head started to ring. 

When the foreman followed me to an automated teller machine (ATM) so I could withdraw the money and pay him in cash, I asked, “Hey? Wouldn’t your company have a UEN (unique entity number) that is linked to a PayNow account?” He replied, “No, we don’t have a UEN.” The truth came crashing down: They were not a registered business. And, without a receipt, I began to wonder how I would lodge a complaint to Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE).

The final red flag revealed itself when, at the ATM, I told him I had hit the daily limit for cash withdrawal, and he’d have to return for the remainder. He asked if I had other bank accounts that I could use. He even said, “Whatever bank account you have access to – your husband’s or a relative’s – just take the money from them?”

I told him I would not use someone else’s bank account. He had already been paid S$3,000 and he could return the next day for the remaining S$1,200. That was when we parted ways.

I was so discomforted by the entire situation that I decided later that day to make a police report.

The next morning, I messaged the foreman saying that while I would not be home to hand him the S$1,200, my husband would be home to do so. I asked again for a receipt. He said he couldn’t give me one. I then asked if he could at least share some form of identification so I could have tangible proof of the transaction between us.

I’ll never know if this request scared him off because it’s been two weeks and he’s not come for the money.  

In the end, I have no one to blame but myself. However, I could not help but dissect the situation and wondered how I – a financial well-being podcaster and someone working in finance – could have been so stupid.

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