Woman in deal to rent out car lands a $17k repair bill

A customer service executive who hoped to earn extra cash by renting out her car told The Straits Times yesterday how she believes she fell victim to a scam after she ended up with a $17,000 repair bill.
A customer service executive who hoped to earn extra cash by renting out her car told The Straits Times yesterday how she believes she fell victim to a scam after she ended up with a $17,000 repair bill. PHOTO: ST FILE

The firm she signed on with was not registered; man in contract gave false name

A customer service executive who hoped to earn extra cash by renting out her car told The Straits Times yesterday how she believes she fell victim to a scam after she ended up with a $17,000 repair bill.

Madam M. Lee advertised her Volkswagen Golf on the classifieds website Gumtree in January and, within a day, she signed a contract to rent it out for $1,700 a month through a company called Elites Elegance Car Leasing.

The contract was due to run until December but the company stopped paying her in April.

The following month, the 29-year-old - who declined to give her full name - discovered the company was not registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

She also found out her car had been in an accident in which the front section had been smashed in. It is now in a workshop needing repairs costing more than $17,000.

It then transpired the man she had signed the contract with had given her a false name - and had been involved in similar cases in the past.

He has promised to pay $13,500 towards the repairs but Madam Lee said: "He said he would pay with an initial $2,000 deposit and subsequent instalments of $800. But I have not gotten any money yet."

Madam Lee made a police report last month. So far, she has paid $7,000 towards the repairs and the car is still at the garage.

Netizens have posted about similar incidents on social media and three have contacted Madam Lee to tell her about their experiences.

In 2009, a man conned 16 victims out of about $134,000 by renting cars from them and then not paying them. He then rented out their vehicles to others and pocketed their payments.

According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), private car owners are not allowed to rent out their cars through rental companies.

However, they can do so through the LTA's private car rental scheme which has certain requirements. For example, the car must be registered under the name of the private individual and have adequate insurance coverage.

Madam Lee said: "I did not know about the regulations until I felt something was not right. If I had known this would happen, I would not have decided to rent it out."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2015, with the headline 'Woman in deal to rent out car lands a $17k repair bill'. Print Edition | Subscribe