Beware of rental scams after at least 16 cases in 2nd half of 2013: Police

The police have warned the public to be wary of online rental scams, after they arrested a 28-year-old man who allegedly cheated potential tenants of close to $10,000.

He collected rental deposits for a place near Hougang Avenue 8 but then disappeared.

He is believed to be involved in at least five cases and can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each offence.

Overall, the police have received at least 16 rental scam reports, involving more than $16,000 in total, between July and December last year.

What usually happens, said the police, is that advertisements for flat rentals would be posted on popular websites.

Potential tenants who call up would be told to pay rent or deposits in advance.

The victims realise they have been conned only when they are asked to make further payments, or when they find out that the units to be rented do not exist.

The police are advising potential tenants to do the following:

- Visit the housing unit which they intend to rent to check its existence and condition, as well as for signs of multiple subletting.

- Verify the identities of the person they are dealing with and their relationship to the unit.

- Confirm the ownership of the unit by verifying against original documents and meeting the house owner.

- Do not pay until the tenancy is confirmed.

- Try not to pay using huge sums of cash. Instead, use cheques or bank transfers for documentary proof.

Anyone with information related to this crime can call the police hotline on 1800-255 0000 or 999 for urgent police help.

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