'Property agent' goes MIA after couple pay $5,000 deposit to rent Newton condo

The New Paper
Oct 30, 2023

A couple fell victim to a property agent scam and lost $5,000 they had paid as a deposit to a condo unit in Newton. 

Speaking to Shin Min Daily News, Wang, who is in his 40s, shared that he and his wife were looking for a new apartment and chanced upon a property agent's Facebook post about three-room HDB flats for rent in Toa Payoh.  

They contacted the male agent, who claimed to be part of an actual real estate agency, through WhatsApp.

"When we contacted him, he said that the flat had been rented out and introduced us to a Newton condo unit with a monthly rent of $2,500," Wang said. 

The agent later sent a video of the apartment to Wang and also arranged for a house viewing.

"We decided to move into the apartment after viewing it twice," said Wang.

He was sent an electronic lease agreement to sign and told to pay a security deposit of two months' rent.

Wang said the lease was signed last Monday (Oct 23) after he paid the deposit, and the two parties agreed that the couple would move in on Dec 15.

But when he asked about issues such as the stamp duty, the property agent deflected his questions and said those issues would be handled closer to the move-in date.

Two days later, the agent became uncontactable. Wang then lodged a police report on Friday (Oct 27). 

Wang told Shin Min that the agent did not accompany him and his wife during the viewings on Oct 20 and Oct 22. On both occasions, the agent said he was unable to make it.

Instead, the couple were received by an intermediary agent on behalf of the real estate agency that the scammer said he worked for. 

Wang said he communicated with the intermediary agent only via text messages and had called each other just once. 

On one occasion, Wang had also asked for both agents’ licence for verification.

"We checked (the scammer’s) licence online and found that his name was registered with the Council for Estate Agencies. So we never expected that this would happen," Wang said. 

Realising the scam, Wang visited the real estate agency on Oct 27 to investigate.

"They said that the agency does have such a property agent but denied that he was the same person who accompanied us at the house viewing.

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