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Singapore Police warns public of rental scam epidemic

Singapore police issue warning on surge of rental scams surge, with 287 victims losing S$1.8 million.

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On Monday (11 Dec), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) issued a serious warning about an increase in rental scams carried out by fraudulent property agents.

According to a news release from the police, at least 287 victims have fallen prey to these scams between July and November, resulting in staggering losses totalling at least S$1.8 million (US$1.34 million).

In this scam variant, victims are coerced by fake property agents into making payments to secure property viewings or rentals.

The scammers typically exploit sponsored property rental listings on popular online platforms and websites such as Facebook, Carousell, and various rental advertisement sites. Notably, the largest number of victims responded to listings on Facebook.

The scammers engage with victims through WhatsApp, using contact numbers provided in the rental listings. During these interactions, the fraudsters pose as legitimate property agents registered with the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA).

Screenshots depicting a dialogue between a fraudster and a target. The scammers would coerce victims into making upfront payments to guarantee property viewings. (Images: Singapore Police Force)

To further deceive victims, they send pictures of CEA registration numbers, business cards, and even pictures or videos of virtual property tours.

However, the provided contact numbers differ from the actual CEA-registered numbers, as confirmed by the police.

As the victims express interest in viewing the property, scammers claim high demand and apply pressure to secure deposits swiftly.

It is only after the victims attempt to contact legitimate property agents or are left without communication from the scammers that they realize they have fallen victim to a scam.

In some instances, victims are instructed to meet the scammers’ “personal assistants” to facilitate property viewings.

Subsequently, the victims are asked for personal information for tenancy agreements and directed to make rental payments through bank transfers or PayNow. After payment, the scammers or their “personal assistants” vanish, leaving victims in financial distress.

Between July and November, at least 77 victims reported falling prey to this method of scamming, resulting in losses of at least S$473,000.

The police have advised the public against relying solely on Facebook or Carousell listings and caution against trusting assurances from scammers over WhatsApp.

To combat this rising threat, the SPF recommends the use of the ScamShield App to protect against scam calls and SMSes.

Additionally, individuals seeking to rent properties are urged to verify the legitimacy of listed phone numbers by checking the CEA public register.

If the number is not registered with CEA, it is likely a scam, even if the property agent’s name and registration number appear in the register.

The police emphasize the importance of contacting property agents’ agencies from trusted sources to verify listing authenticity, rather than relying on the contact numbers provided in online listings.

They also highlight that property agents are not permitted to demand payments for viewing premises, and rental deposits should be paid to the real estate agencies’ bank accounts, not to the “personal assistants.”

To curb the proliferation of these scams, the SPF encourages the public to report fraudulent pages to the online platforms hosting the listings.

For additional information on scams, members of the public are directed to visit www.scamalert.sg or contact the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-722-6688.

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“Availavle ” that should be a red flag.

time to ban ZUCCbook ads. or fine them for enabling scams. also the rents are too damn high. HDB should be held accoutable too.

A Smart Nation of Sheeps easily scammed. Goodness. How are they brought up, what kind of education they went thru for 10 years or more? And reinforced by National Fake news Syndicate Politically controlled – brainwashed.

What is 黑白都吃. Govt promote their Rental Apartment White Biz while sending their accumulated black entities to mess or create chaos in the Open citizens realms. No?!?

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