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    Reading about the rise of car insurance fraud claims in the news must be bittersweet to many drivers who were victims of such syndicates. More than a few of us (including one MoneySmart employee!) have been in situations where we've had our suspicions about the true nature of a car accident that we've been involved in.

    We spoke to one driver, Wilson, who shared with us the details of a recent accident along the PIE. This is his story as recounted to us:

    THE ACCIDENT

    My situation is slightly unique because of the nature of my work. I had exchanged cars with a friend due to his car needing some vehicle maintenance. I run a car workshop and was bringing his car in, and so my friend was supposed to bring my car, a Honda Jazz, back to me. This was when the accident occurred and this was what was recounted to me.

    My friend had left his office in Tuas early to return the car and he was driving along the PIE towards Changi back in December 2016, when he was involved in a chain collision involving 4 cars and 1 motorcycle. It was about 3.45pm at the time of the accident. My car was the last of the four cars, but a motorcycle behind couldn't stop in time and collided into my car, technically making it the last vehicle in the accident.

    Immediately, he noticed two men approaching the accident site. The car they were in was not involved in the accident, but they were handing out name cards to the other drivers of the damaged cars. They were offering to help with their repairs, and were overheard saying things like, "Guys don't worry, your insurance wont be affected, that Jazz is the last car. I will help you with your repairs."

    Photo: MoneySmart

    My friend found it very suspicious that they seemed to be isolating us from the conversation. He had approached one of the two men to get a name card and was refused one.

    On our part, we spoke to the driver of the first car, and they claimed that they had hit the brakes because the car in front of them had done so as well. It turns out that this was the car that the two men were in. As both my friend and I are familiar with the car industry, his suspicions were at an all-time high, and we wondered if the first car was targeted because it had no in-car camera, or if it was because the driver was young and female, or both.

    Or maybe the female driver was also in cahoots with the two men, since she took the two men up on their offer and left with them. When my friend tried to take a picture of one of the men who had stepped out of the first car, he shouted, "Do not take my picture, I am NOT involved in this accident!" Which led us all to think - if you are not involved, why did you come out? To help? To distribute name cards? This was all a very weird mix of events.

    But here's the "best" part: when the Traffic Police marshalls came and spoke to my friend, one of them commented, "Looks like the same people over and over again. And this spot doesn't have traffic surveillance cameras."

    THE AFTERMATH

    Fortunately, while the damage to my car was extensive, it was superficial. There was no damage to the engine or the chassis. I got it repaired and managed to sell it 6 months later.

    However, my insurance company is still fighting my case. There was a $42,000 claim against my policy. They involve 2 medical claims and 1 vehicular claim.

    This means that not only is my 30 per cent No-Claims Discount now suspended, but the car insurance for my new car is almost $4,000, compared to a quote of $1,667 for my wife whose records are clean but has never owned a car. I know it is not the fault of the insurance company, but the loss of NCD and the high insurance premiums leave a very bad taste in my mouth.

    WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THE SCAM?

    Clearly, they covered all the bases - offering to handle insurance claims as well as accident repairs. They stage the accidents and then earn money from the unsuspecting victims. It's hard to know whether those claiming against my insurance were legitimate or part of the scam.

    ARE THESE SCAMMERS STILL OPERATING?

    Mine was not the first or the last time such a collision happened at that spot. I understand that there are no traffic surveillance cameras there, and that's why it's such a popular spot for these scammers and syndicates.

    Just some days ago, there was a 12-vehicle collision along the same stretch of the PIE. It was also due to the sudden braking of a vehicle in front. Is it the same group? Or someone else?

    WHAT CAN WE DO WHEN WE ENCOUNTER SUCH SITUATIONS?

    Here are a few points to take note of:

    1. Know exactly what to do in a traffic incident, and make sure you have a preferred workshop already in mind. If you have no experience with workshops, at least have your car insurance company's hotline on hand so that you can get advice on what to do.
    2. Don't be too willing to accept help, even from the most well-meaning of people. The Expressway Monitoring and Advisory System, better known as EMAS, is committed to dispatching a service crew to arrive within 15 minutes of the incident, so don't allow a random stranger to tow your car. In fact, consider getting a car insurance policy that includes towing services.
    3. Get an in-car camera to ensure you have some evidence of the period leading up to the incident.

    SURELY MORE CAN BE DONE?

    It's easy to feel helpless and believe that these scammers are going to get away scot-free. If certain areas tend to be targets for these syndicates, the authorities should look into ensuring there's better surveillance and that these stretches of the expressway don't become a blind spot.

    Ultimately, the authorities need to be given more leeway to prosecute suspected scammers. If a person is giving out name cards, or recommending a workshop soon after an accident, victims should be able to report them. This should help with identifying who is involved in a syndicate. Even if they're not, at least there is some record of their engagement. In Wilson's case, they weren't even involved in the accident so really had no business being there.

    Currently, you're also required to notify the police if someone is injured in an accident. This should be more strictly enforced so that it prevents fraudulent medical claims from popping up later. In the story above, there was no injury reported, nor was the accident severe enough to plausibly believe that not one but TWO medical claims could be made. And yet Wilson still has to deal with a massive insurance claim against him.

    But ultimately, here's the thing - if these scammers continue to get away with these ridiculous "staged" accidents, you could lose a lot more than just money. In the case of Wilson's friend, the accident he was involved in wasn't severe. But imagine if the biker at the back had fallen awkwardly onto the road and had gotten hit by a car in the next lane. Not only is a life lost, but the other people involved in the accident also have to bear the trauma of the loss as well.

    Friday, December 1, 2017 - 12:24

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    Taiwanese bubble tea chain Gong Cha returned to Singapore today with the opening of a new flagship outlet at SingPost Centre.

    It temporarily exited Singapore earlier this June when Royal Tea Taiwan, the company behind the Gong Cha brand, did not renew a previous franchise agreement.

    After four months of absence, Gong Cha finally made its comeback today under a new master franchisee, Gong Cha (Singapore).

    Gong Cha (Singapore) is helmed by Mr Kang Puay Seng, the co-founder and ex-managing director of local soy milk brand Mr Bean.

    "Singapore has always been an important market for us, and we believe that our new master franchisee will give the brand a new lease of life here," said Mr Lee, CEO of Royal Tea Taiwan.

    Previously, co-founder of Royal Tea Taiwan, Mr Kim Soo-Min, mentioned that they're not bringing Gong Cha back to compete with LiHo.

    (Quick backgrounder: LiHo founder Rodney Tang was the one who brought the Gong Cha franchise to Singapore back in 2009)

    Instead, it wants to "bring new colour to the Singapore market, for example, by introducing a more modern look to our stores and logo and a new menu which we'll customise for Singapore customers."

    Taiwanese bubble tea chain Gong Cha returns to Singapore

    MUCH ANTICIPATED RETURN

    Since the new partnership between Royal Tea Taiwan and Gong Cha (Singapore) was announced in August, thousands of Gong Cha fans in Singapore have been waiting eagerly for its return.

    In fact, the Gong Cha (Singapore) Facebook page attracted more than 20,000 followers the moment it was set up last July.

    And when Gong Cha officially announced its return on November 28, it garnered over 70,000 views within just 3 days.

    As it makes its grand return, Gong Cha made clear that it aims to be "bigger and better".

    In line with this relaunch, Gong Cha has pretty much revamped its brand with new packaging, new flavours, and a new store layout.

    Adding on to original favourites, Gong Cha has launched two new series, namely Tea Latte and Smoothie. Prices will remain the same, and new flavours will be priced from $4.30 onwards.

    Photo: AsiaOne

    Some of the new drink highlights include Matcha Milk Tea Latte with Red Bean, Purple Sweet Potato Milk Tea, Brown Sugar Fresh Milk Oolong, and Strawberry Popcorn Fresh Milk Tea.

    Besides introducing new drinks, Gong Cha also wants to provide a better F&B experience to consumers with a fresh cafe concept.

    Unlike previously, the new flagship outlet is no longer a takeaway bubble store. It can now sit 33 people so customers can hang around and enjoy their drink in a cosy environment.

    It will also be offering a snack menu for the very first time, including their latest tea-infused biscuit creation.

    FIRST, BUT DEFINITELY NOT THE LAST OUTLET

    Gong Cha (Singapore) plans to open 50 stores islandwide in the next five years.

    The next 10 to 15 outlets will open at prime mall locations, and the second outlet is slated to open at Takashimaya.

    As they expand their footprint in Singapore, Gong Cha also wants to give back to the industry.

    Mr Kang shared that the company will be offering Gong Cha scholarships in partnership with Singapore Polytechnic in the coming year.

    "[We want] to encourage and empower like-minded youths to develop their potential to the fullest and keep the sector vibrant with their innovations."

    This article was first published in Vulcan Post

    Friday, December 1, 2017 - 16:15

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    The e-scooter rider who tragically lost his life in an accident with a double-decker bus at Kaki Bukit yesterday (Nov 30) was described as 'kind-hearted, helpful and friendly' by his cousin, Ms Fauziah Mohammed Mydin.

    Mr Zanri, another cousin of the victim told The Straits Times that the victim, Atan Amat, had been working as a cleaner at an SMRT depot. He was not married and lived with his younger sister, his only sibling.

    Mr Zanri said the family was busy arranging the funeral and added that prayers for the Mr Atan will be held at his Bedok home this afternoon.

    The SBS Transit bus was travelling along Bedok Reservoir Road towards Kaki Bukit at around when the accident occurred.

    The 52-year-old victim was conveyed to Changi General Hospital where he later died.

    A new video which was sent to us by Stomp contributor Terrance shows the scene of the accident where passer-bys were spotted attending to the victim.

    Upon seeing the accident, Terrance called for an ambulance.

    Senior vice-president of corporate communications at SBS Transit, Ms Tammy Tan said in a statement that the bus operator was "very sad that this happened".

    According to Ms Tan, SBS Transit representatives were at the hospital with Mr Atan's family yesterday to render assistance.

    SMRT's vice-president of corporate communications Patrick Nathan said the transport operator will also be reaching out through Mr Atan's agency to "convey our condolences to his family".

    There were about 90 accidents in the first half of this year involving electric bicycles and personal mobility devices.

    The accidents resulted in four deaths and about 90 injuries, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament in October.

    Friday, December 1, 2017 - 16:00

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    A delivery guy on an e-scooter was hit by a car while crossing a road when the red man was showing on a traffic light.

    A video of the incident was posted on Roads.sg's Facebook page.

    According to the time stamp, the incident happened on Nov 29 at 9.54pm but the location is unclear.

    In the video, the driver has the right of way when the e-scooter rider begins crossing the road.

    Unable to brake in time, the drive runs into the rider whose body hits the driver's windscreen, cracking it.

    The rider then falls to the ground.

    on Facebook

    Drivers please be extra careful on these wet days with low vision. Be on special look out for pedestrians and e-scooters...

    Posted by ROADS.sg on Thursday, 30 November 2017

    Yesterday (Nov 30), there were two accidents involving e-scooter riders, one at Kaki Bukit and the other at Woodlands.

    In the first case, 52-year-old Atan Amat was hit by a double-decker bus.

    He subsequently died in Changi General Hospital after succumbing to his injuries.

    In the Woodlands case, a 16-year-old boy was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital after an accident with a car.

    Friday, December 1, 2017 - 16:20

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    A man visited his girlfriend who had been hospitalised but shoved her to the floor during a dispute over monetary issues, breaking three of her ribs and causing various other injuries.

    The incident happened on May 5, 2016, and the man, Ke Jian Liang, was sentenced on Thursday (Nov 30) to 2 weeks' jail and fined $1,000, reports Lianhe Wanbao.

    Court documents revealed that the victim had been warded after getting stung by a sea creature during a diving session in Terengganu, Malaysia on May 4, 2016.

    She subsequently returned to Singapore and sought treatment at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, where she was warded.

    Ke visited her the following day.

    During the session, the two got into an argument over financial matters.

    The altercation intensified and Ke became outraged.

    He started throwing items on the floor, hurling vulgarities and shoved the victim.

    Ke also grabbed a pillow and attempted to hit the victim's head.

    So as not to alarm the nurses outside, Ke blocked the door to the room.

    The victim attempted to run out to look for help but was pushed by Ke.

    She hit a wooden bed frame and fell on the floor.

    The victim was unable to stand after that.

    She dragged herself to the nurse call button and requested for assistance.

    A nurse quickly attended to her, and under her instructions, called the police.

    Ke left before the police arrived.

    The victim broke three ribs, had difficulty breathing, suffered bruises and trauma to her spine from Ke's assault.

    She had to extend her stay in the hospital until Aug 31.

    After the incident, the victim told Ke that she wanted to break up with him.

    Ke continuously harassed her by sending her multiple messages on May 20, 2016.

    In many of the messages, Ke insulted and used vulgarities to demean the victim.

    In his mitigation plea, Ke's legal representative said that Ke is remorseful for his actions and had even offered the victim a $7,800 cheque to alleviate her medical bills.

    However, the victim rejected the cheque.

    Friday, December 1, 2017 - 16:29

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    Heli-hiking in New Zealand's Tasman Glacier. Glamping in Oman. Polar bear-seeking in Svalbard. Affluent Singaporeans are sparing no expense in their pursuit of the ultimate travel experience, sparking an influx of luxury tour operators to Singapore. Find out how travel habits are changing in this age of experiential holidays. 

    Also in the magazine, get a head start on Christmas dining with our special guide to festive feasts. If you're doing some early Christmas shopping, make it personal with customised gifts created by local artists.

     And if you enjoy dabbling with colour pencils, check out our new colouring series in the magazine where we invite artists to create heritage-themed illustrations that you can colour and keep.

    Supertall skyscrapers are sprouting up around the world with alacrity. Are they the product of groundbreaking vision or pure vanity? Brunch counts the costs and tallies the attractions, in the main paper.

    Cubicle Files works out if appearances really matter at work.

    The Steering Column finds that Audi’s new entry-level TT 1.8 coupe in a fine example of   driver-centric motoring that needn’t be prohibitively expensive or inefficient.

    And in The Finish Line, we round up the just-ended Formula One season.

    To subscribe, visit btsub.sg/weekend.

    Friday, December 1, 2017 - 20:00
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    Police have arrested 19 men, aged between 17 and 63, for various offences in an overnight raid in Geylang.

    The operation, which ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning (Dec 2), targeted the streets and entertainment outlets in Geylang.

    Out of those arrested, 17 were suspected of being members of unlawful societies. One of the men was arrested for fraudulent possession, and the arrest of the remaining suspect was due to a warrant of arrest.

    Investigations against the men are ongoing.

    a1admin@sph.com.sg

    Saturday, December 2, 2017 - 21:02

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    Sunday, December 3, 2017 - 11:39
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    It is not uncommon for Singaporeans to pop into neighbouring Johor Bahru (JB) for a few hours to take advantage of the cheaper prices there.

    Facebook user Mohamad Hafiz drove to JB on Nov 16 with his friend to hang out and decided that he might as well get his Audi washed there as well.

    However, when he returned to the car wash two hours later to retrieve his car, he found out that somebody else had driven away with it.

    He wrote in a Facebook post, which has since been removed:

    "...it's normal practice that we hand our keys over to the car wash guys so that they can move our cars from the washing area to the drying/vacuuming area.

    "I reached at midnight and 2 hrs later when I wanted to go home and asked for my car, they told me that my 'friend' has collected it on my behalf.

    "I thought they were pulling my leg but true enough someone else drove away [with] the car already. The thief acted as though it was his car, paid for the car wash and drove off with my car."

    When they realised what had happened, the facility's managers came down and went with Hafiz to make a police report.

    Hafiz, who had bought his car just three weeks prior to the incident, contacted his dealer and finance company the next morning and found out that there was a tracker in his car.

    "We went straight to the location (it was a condo) and after 2 hours of battling with the guards and management we managed to find out the unit number of the flat the thief was staying in," he wrote.

    "When we stormed in, the thief climbed out of the window and climbed down from the 22nd floor to the 20th floor in an attempt to flee.

    "Obviously he was caught and brought back to [the] station.

    "Luckily, there wasn't any damage to my car other than [him] mixing up the numbers on my number plate."

    Hafiz also shared a video of the man standing on the ledge outside the unit.

    Monday, December 4, 2017 - 15:09

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