997 people in S'pore lose S$3.9 million to scammers posing as property agents in 2022 so far

Don't transfer money to people you haven't met in real life.

Belmont Lay | August 26, 2022, 12:14 PM

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Some 997 people in Singapore have lost a total of S$3.9 million in 2022 alone after they fell victim to scammers posing as property agents.

The police said in its advisory on Aug. 26 that scammers have been impersonating as legitimate property agents and asking victims for payment to secure the rental of a unit before viewing the property.

How scam works

Fake online listings with contact numbers lure victims to respond and initiate a conversation with the scammers via WhatsApp.

The scammers would pose as registered property agents.

The victim is then convinced of the credentials of the scammers who would send a photo of an agent's business card and pictures or videos of the property to be leased.

The scammers would then ask for the victim's personal details to prepare the lease agreement.

The victims who want to view the property first are told the landlord was unavailable.

To make the ruse more legitimate, the scammers would send a copy of the lease agreement with the name and NRIC of the purported owner of the unit to the victims for them to sign.

The victims would be instructed to make payment after signing, on the pretext it served as rental deposits, stamp duty, or other fees to secure the rental.

Victims find out they had been cheated only after the scammers ceased contact, or when they reached out to the legitimate property agents through other means.

Verifying agents

The police advised members of the public to verify the legitimacy of a property listing by contacting the agent's property agency to verify the listing's authenticity.

Property agents should only be reached via the agent's phone number registered on the Council for Estate Agencies' (CEA) public register.

A check with the CEA by searching for the agent's phone number on the register will reveal if the property agent is registered.

If the search does not lead to the property agent's profile page, the agent has not registered that phone number with the CEA and the listing may be fake.

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