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Grab driver filched phone left behind by passenger, rated himself 5 stars

Grab driver filched phone left behind by passenger, rated himself 5 stars

A person using the Grab mobile app. (Photo: Grab's website)

SINGAPORE: When a passenger left her phone behind in his vehicle, a Grab driver took it and gave himself a five-star rating, before throwing the device away as he felt it would be a waste of time to return it.

In a separate incident, the man also posted abusive comments on Facebook against a cashier at a petrol station because he was upset she had won a service excellence award.

For his string of offences, 32-year-old Alvin Ng Liang Dong was fined S$5,000 on Tuesday (Dec 10) and ordered to pay S$500 to the owner of the phone as compensation.

Ng pleaded guilty to three charges including dishonest misappropriation of property, a rash act endangering others' safety and a harassment charge, with another two charges taken into consideration.

The court heard that Ng picked up a 28-year-old sales manager in his Grab car on the morning of Sep 9, 2017, and took her to her destination.

After dropping her off at about 9am, Ng noticed that the woman's phone was on the back seat. He waited for his next passenger and used the victim's phone to rate himself five stars through the Grab application.

He continued picking up passengers, but thought about the phone, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Emily Koh. 


"The accused knew if he were to proceed to the Grab office to return the handphone, Grab management would not compensate him in any way," she said. 

As he believed it would be "a waste of time" to hand over the phone to the Grab office, Ng decided to dispose of the phone.

He picked up more passengers that day before throwing the phone away in a dustbin at a petrol kiosk.

That evening, when the victim was on her way home from work, she realised that she did not have her phone with her and assumed she left it at work.

However, she could not find it in her office the next day and used another phone to check on her Grab account.

She realised there was a five-star rating given to Ng, which she had not given.

She suspected that Ng had taken her phone and given himself the rating, so she reported the matter to Grab and to the police.

When confronted by Grab personnel, Ng lied that he had not found any phone, but later admitted to police that he had thrown it away "due to his laziness and bad planning".

The phone was not recovered and Ng did not make any restitution for it.


About a year later, Ng got into further trouble. This time, he was no longer a Grab driver and instead worked as a driver for a funeral parlour.

On Aug 26 this year, Ng went to Caltex petrol station at 1 Tampines Avenue 8 to top up petrol for his vehicle.

He went to the cashier and flashed a screenshot from a mobile application for a 20 per cent discount, but the cashier could not process it.

They began disputing over the discount and Ng left his identity card behind, saying he would return to make payment.

As he walked out of Star Mart at the petrol station, he heard the cashier talking about his upbringing.

Angered, he returned to her, picked up a metal sign saying "NEXT COUNTER PLEASE" and threw it over the counter.

A few months later on Nov 3, Ng saw a public Facebook post on Caltex Singapore's page, featuring the cashier for customer service excellence.

He had not been satisfied with her service. Neither was he satisfied that she had received the service excellence award.

He shared the post publicly on his own Facebook wall and said: "Bro I scold this bitch cashier (tomorrow) I attend court (because of) her friend. Still can get star of the month award my foot. Caltex blind."

The cashier, who had already filed a police report over the throwing of the sign, saw the post and was alarmed and fearful.


The prosecution on Tuesday asked the judge to impose a fine of at least S$5,500, noting that Grab drivers, like taxi drivers, provide transport services to the public.

She added that the cashier could have potentially been harmed.

Ng, who was unrepresented, told the judge that he was "so sorry" for throwing the sign at the cashier in a moment of anger.

"I did not really want to throw the sign at her at all," he said. "I was with my father that day, but because of one sentence I was really quite angered at her - because my dad was just beside me and she can say I got no upbringing."

As for the phone incident, he said he was angry not because of the passenger but because of Grab.

"And because the phone (had) no SIM card, I (had) no way to call her or let her call me through the phone," he said.

The judge noted that Ng had not paid the passenger for her phone and ordered him to "pay up as soon as possible" or serve a default sentence of five days.

He granted Ng his request to pay his fine in instalments by March 2020.

Source: CNA/ll(hs)


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