In WOMEN

A Heartless Beast

When I was pregnant with Charles and on no-pay leave at home, my main routine everyday was sleeping, eating, drinking lots of water and milk, reading pregnancy books and logging in to Singaporemotherhood.com. Singaporemotherhood.com became my daily reading fodder. When I read the forum, I felt so connected to the other pregnant ladies online, because we were all suffering from similar pregnancy symptoms.

I was a silent reader and I did not comment but I enjoy reading all the postings. It sort of became an obsession because I had to login everyday. They became my friends and connection to normal adults. At home, I lived with my helper, my mother who was then 66 years old and my hyper-active 2 and half year old son. My husband, the other normal adult, leaves home at 8am and came home at 8pm every night. Sometimes if he has to work later, I would login to meet my cyber friends at Singaporemotherhood.com.

After giving birth, I did not keep up with the forum because I was busy caring for my 2 sons and also I had to return to Corporate Life. A week so so ago, I read on Yahoo News that one lady had used Singaporemotherhood and other forums to scam mothers of more than S$52,000. What kind of a freak would do that? Anyway, it was said that she used the usernames and handles noelpauline and cythian.k.

Singaporemotherhood is a forum where like-minded mothers and women get together to discuss their problems and in order to maintain the site, the administrators do open business forums and rake in advertisements to keep the forum going. It has very strict rules about spamming and your account can be suspended if you are found to have been spamming.

Mothers usually organise shopping sprees to get cheaper deals because they have to look nice yet save up enough to get milk powder or other children’s necessities. So this rogue used the scheme to trick nearly 230 mothers on the forum to join her overseas shopping sprees by creating 9 threads on Singaporemotherhood.com since March this year to lure these mothers with attractive shipping rates, exchange rates and lower taxes for items including bags, lanyards, wristlets from brands like Coach, Kate Spade and Longchamp.

Her initial sprees ran under her username noelpauline and she only fulfilled partial orders. The cracks in her gambit appeared because she was unconcerned and seemed disinterested to meet up and kept postponing appointments to hand over the items which the mothers have paid for.

The mothers discovered that the usernames noelpauline and cynthina.k actually belonged to the same person. This was because sometimes they bought their items under noelpauline but would receive emails from this person called Cynthia instead. Many mothers were disappointed because if the stocks ran out, the organiser would usually inform the mothers who shared in the shopping spree and refunds would be made very quickly. In Ong’s shopping sprees, the mothers never got their refunds.

The ruse had been hatched for a long time. First the perpetrator called “Pauline Ong” used multiple nicknames to create shopping sprees and online searches have shown that her multiple emails have come up on Gmarket and Deluxemall.com. Secondly, to be able to post Overseas Spree forums on Singaporemotherhood.com, you have to be a member of Singaporemotherhood.com for more than one year.

This “Pauline Ong” was finally barred from the forum by forum moderators from 8 June onwards and many who have been duped by her shopping sprees came forward. The large number of irate customers were so displeased that they threatened to lodge police reports against Ong. She then relented and appealed to her customers against filing police reports and promised them that she would return their monies.

Her father-in-law stepped in to broker a deal between Ong and the irate customers, whom she met. Some of them even turned up at her Jurong West flat to demand for payment. The deal was that she would pay back them as long as they did not lodge any police reports against her for fraud.

By the time that I publish this post, she would have repaid more than S$22,000 to the customers she had duped. To me, she should be jailed and made to do community service. If she is a mother, she should know how important these forums are to like-minded mothers like myself who depended on the people in the forums for advice and support. To use trickery on such forums, you should not only be ashamed of yourself but you should be jailed for fraud under the Penal Code.

This is an excellent example for forums like MummSG.com, Singaporemotherhood.com and also other forums like Hardwarezone.com to be more prudent and diligent whilst screening and adding members. Those who join these forums should maintain the integrity that we are all joining a cyber community of like-minded people and we are all here to discuss, comment and also support each other. To come up with scams and to deceive on such forums and to even think about it goes to show that the perpetrator has no conscience. Her heart does not bleed like a normal human or does she even have one?

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