Source: The New Paper via AsiaOne
SINGAPORE - The former part-time actor approached them about two months ago with a sob story about needing money desperately for his ailing mother.
Having known the man for more than 20 years, celebrity couple Hong Hui Fang and Zheng Geping decided to help him and have lent him $5,000 in total so far
Then they heard from friends that the former actor, who we shall call A, had been seen gambling in the casinos here and word soon got around in their circle of friends that A had also borrowed up to five-digit sums from veteran A-list stars such as Zoe Tay, Chen Guo Hua and Hong Kong actress Michelle Yim after telling them the same sob story.
Hong and Zheng are now wondering if they will get their money back, especially since some of the stars who lent him money have not been able to reach him recently.
The couple said that A, who has acted in many MediaCorp dramas in the past, had phoned them on separate occasions in the last two months to say that he needed cash urgently to pay his rent and to take care of his old ailing mother who had previously suffered a stroke.
Zheng, 49, told The New Paper in Mandarin on Monday: "He called me up and told me how pitiful his life is.
"He begged me to lend him some money so that he could pay his maid who is taking care of his mother.
"I was worried about his mum, and I felt that he might be telling the truth, so I lent him the money."
He added: "It's only when I heard from my friends that they had seen him gambling in casinos here that I realised he had taken the money to gamble.
"I am very disappointed because I felt that he shouldn't have lied to us. Most importantly, he should ensure that his mum has a place to stay and is okay now."
Hong, 53, said: "Every time he borrows money from actors, he would use a different mobile phone number, and once the call ends, the number would not be in use any more. No one can find him to get back the money."
At least two stars said they heard that A had sold his flat to feed his gambling habit and to pay off his gambling debts. He is said to have rented a room which he shares with his mother.
Some local artistes, including Zheng and Hong, are now trying to find a charity organisation to take care of A's mother.
Zheng said: "My wife did some research and texted him a list of charity organisations that can take his mum in, but he did not respond. As outsiders, this is all we can do to help.
"We are not even thinking of getting our money back right now. All we want is for his mother to have a roof over her head."
Veteran actor Chen Guo Hua, 52, who had tried to contact A several times, but to no avail, told Shin Min Daily News: "He had borrowed money from me many times, but had not given back the money.
"He called me once while leading a tour group in China and said he needed to borrow money urgently. "He wanted me to transfer the money to a bank account in Singapore.
"That was when I guessed that he might have wanted me to help him repay money he had borrowed from loan sharks."
Veteran actress Xiang Yun was also approached by A last month.
The 51-year-old told TNP: "He pleaded with me and I could hear that he was in a dire state. I told him that if he wanted to borrow a huge sum of money, I was unable to (help). My ATM card was not with me at the time and I was busy having my car repaired, so I told him I couldn't help him.
"He even told me that I am one of the few local celebs who had not lent him money yet."
A, who used to be a tour guide, had also convinced some local artists to invest in his travel agency business about two years ago, telling them that they could receive profits after six months.
They included Hong, who pumped in $50,000, and actor Nick Shen, who invested a five-digit sum.
Shen, who is in his 30s, told TNP: "I had a good working relationship with him in the past, so when he approached me to invest, I thought it was fine.
"When I didn't hear from him after six months, I followed up with him and he told me his business had met some challenges. Eventually, he paid me back the full sum in instalments."
Hong also said that A has repaid the $50,000 she lent him.
When Shin Min managed to track A down over the phone on Friday, he said he was working part-time in Batam and that he needed to borrow the money because his business had failed. He denied he had been gambling.
After reports on him came out that day, he called Shin Min on Saturday and said that he had lost his job in Batam and had returned to Singapore. He said: "I am not on the run and I did not say that I wouldn't pay back the money."
He said he would contact his creditors and answer to them.
As of last Monday evening, Zheng and Hong said they had yet to hear from him.
Stars who reportedly lent money to A
Chen Guo Hua
Thousands of dollars
Hong Kong actor Xia Yu
Hong Kong actress Michelle Yim
Zhang Jing Hua
Jing Yin Ji
Hong Hui Fang and Zheng Geping