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The police have warned of a scam in which perpetrators impersonate legitimate property agents and ask victims for payment to secure the rental of a unit before viewing the property.
At least 997 victims have fallen prey to this scam since January, with total losses amounting to $3.9 million, said police in an advisory on Friday (Aug 26).
In this variant, the victims would typically respond to an online property listing and initiate a conversation with the scammer via WhatsApp using the contact numbers in the fake online listing.
During the conversation, the scammer would impersonate a registered property agent and convince the victim of his credentials by sending a picture of the property agent’s business card and pictures or videos of the property to be leased.
The scammer would then request for the victim’s personal details to prepare the lease agreement. When victims asked if they could view the property, the scammers would claim that the landlord was unavailable.
To add an air of legitimacy, scammers would send a copy of a lease agreement with the name and NRIC of the purported owner of the unit to the victims for signature.
After signing, victims would then be instructed to make payment for various reasons (such as rental deposits, stamp duty or other fees) to secure the rental.
"Victims would only discover that they had been scammed after the scammer ceased contact with them or when they reach out to the legitimate property agents through other means," police added.
Members of the public are advised to adopt the following precautionary measures:
Beware of calls with the “+” prefix which originate from overseas; • Do not make any payments before a property viewing; and
Do not disclose your personal information, credit card and bank details or passwords, including one-time passwords (OTPs), to anyone.
If you have information related to such crimes, please call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. Dial '999' if you require urgent police assistance. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.