It started on Nov. 16, 2015, when Wesley engaged Space Art Interior Designs Pte. Ltd. to renovate his home.
It turned out to be a scam.
As Wesley recounted his experience with them, he also shared what to look out for when engaging interior designers and renovation companies in order to avoid getting scammed.
Here are three red flags homeowners should be looking out for:
1) Exceptionally good deals
Space Art ID quoted Wesley an exceedingly low price for a number of renovation works, with the entire project amounting to S$17,000:
In comparison, the renovation cost of the house Wesley currently resides in was S$30,000.
The low price works to entice hasty sign-ups, which paves the way for red flags #2 and #3.
2) 50% Deposit
Space Art ID then allegedly asked for a 50% deposit from Wesley, which would be $8,500 in this case.
However, instead of $8,500, they demanded $10,000.
This, according to Wesley, is not the norm. The most you should be paying is a 20% deposit.
For his current house's renovation, only a 10% deposit was required. Everything else was paid upon completion.
Once you have paid the deposit, scammers will come up with all sorts of reasons to delay the actual work. In Wesley's case, it was a "hacking licence" that can only be obtained by certain external contractors, and a hodgepodge of other reasons like an unreliable carpenter.
The works were delayed to the point where Wesley asked for a refund, but never got one.
At some point in time, Wesley also visited their address in Woodlands only to find an empty room.
3) No documentation
Since no refunds were made, Wesley eventually went to the Small Claims Tribunal.
However, in his rush to seal the deal, Wesley had made the mistake of paying Space Art ID without obtaining a receipt for the transaction.
An ibanking stamp may not be sufficient evidence in court, he warns.
The person behind the Space Art ID - a certain Bernard Tan - attended all court sessions to defend his case, even claiming that Wesley's request for a refund had voided the contract.
Tan, however did not attend the last court session.
Although the court eventually ruled in Wesley's favour and sent court officers to reclaim equipment from the office of Space Art ID, nothing came out of it as the "office" was empty.
A police report was also made, but nothing came out of it.
Wesley advises all customers to make sure there is proper documentation for any transactions made. In fact, he got so paranoid that they filmed the handing over of money to his next interior designer.
Wesley was lucky enough to get a portion of his money back.
Due to pressure from the media and public, the mother of another key figure in Space Art ID was harassed so severely that he ended up partially refunding Wesley, as his was one of the major on-going cases against the ID firm at the time.
Other victims, however, were not as lucky. From what Wesley knows, most of the customers that came after him never got their money back.
Still at large
According to Wesley, the scammers are still out there operating under a different name, but their second Facebook page has since been taken down after they got involved in another scam.
A quick search on the internet does not show any reports by the mainstream media, but turns up a forum thread of other victims instead.
Watch the original video below:
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Top image adapted from video.