The scammers may have stolen his money, but they can’t steal his steel. In an interview with AsiaOne on Thursday (March 2) for Mediacorp’s new drama Silent Walls, Charlie Goh asserted that he’s not too shaken by netizen criticism after he posted about falling for an online scam in February.
“I think netizens always have something to say whether it’s good or bad,” the 34-year-old actor said. “Anything. Even if I don’t get scammed, or even if I go and scam people… so you can’t please everyone.”
He added: “I’m not very `affected by comments or what people say, thank God — I mean, if I were I probably wouldn’t be in this industry, because [people] are very critical of public figures.”
But do netizens lack empathy in his eyes?
He responded thoughtfully: “People that make a lot of noise on social media — I choose to believe that these are the minority. I believe the majority of people will still have kindness and empathy, they just don’t voice it out.
“It’s the people who go online and type those things (criticism) that are the ones that make the most noise — empty vessels make the most noise.”
On March 1, AsiaOne reported that Charlie fell for an online scam after paying $160 for salmon and beef from a Facebook page named Grocery Retail via a sponsored advertisement.
Sharing his experience on his Instagram account, Charlie posted multiple Stories showing how he had been caught in the scammer’s web, ultimately resulting in him filing a police report.
“You can take my money and spend it in Hell,” Charlie wrote in his Instagram Story post.
Following the media coverage, some netizens dropped disparaging remarks calling him “stupid”, “sia suay” (disgraceful) and “cheapo”.
“Price to pay for being lazy. Go supermarket buy so easy don’t want. Orhbi good (serves you right),” one netizen wrote.
Charlie explained to AsiaOne exactly how he ended up falling hook, line and sinker for this online scam.
“It was during my lunchtime and I was scrolling through Facebook when one of these sponsored ads came up — it’s sponsored, so that means they paid Facebook for their ad to be pushed.
“Then I saw the meat, and the pictures looked quite nice… and it wasn’t even all that cheap! It was slightly cheaper than NTUC Fairprice, maybe, like 10 to 20 per cent cheaper.”
He didn’t double-check if it was a new page, but began discussing with a representative of the page through the messaging option available on Facebook.
Charlie was instructed to make payment through PayNow, which reassured him of the grocer’s validity.
He laughed: “I thought to myself, ‘If you want to scam and you use a PayNow number which is linked to a bank account, it’s very easy to catch, right? For $160, is it worth it?'”
For the scammers, it was, and Charlie later understood why.
“They’ll scam [each victim] once, each time it’ll be $100. They’ll scam a lot of people and it becomes a few thousand dollars, so they’re quite smart,” Charlie said.
Although he didn’t want to report this to the police, his friends and family convinced him otherwise.
“I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been scammed. There’re definitely people who paid hundreds of dollars and think it’s a small amount of money, so they don’t report it to the police.”
He added: “It’s not about the money, or about whether these people get caught. It’s about letting the public know that this is a scam.”
When AsiaOne reached out to Grocery Retail for comment on Feb 28, their posts were still visible on Facebook. However, they removed all their posts on March 1. The Facebook page that Charlie made his purchase has since been deleted.
In Silent Walls, Charlie plays Wu Tianhua, the eldest son of the Wu family who returns from studying in the UK in 1938.
They move into a new home and a new mahjie (Tasha Low) joins them, causing trouble as emotions, love and relationships are laid bare.
Silent Walls also stars Darren Lim, Mindee Ong, Desmond Shen, Chen Shucheng and Andie Chen.
It will be available for free on meWATCH from March 13 and premieres March 15 at 9pm on Channel 8.