Victims duped into transferring money to secure viewings in hot property market

The rental prices for HDB flats and private apartments hit new highs in April amid a dip in leasing volumes. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Eight people are being investigated for their suspected involvement in recent rental scams where they allegedly deceived victims to transfer so-called refundable deposits to secure property viewing appointments.

The fake property listings were posted on various websites and platforms, said the police on Saturday (May 21).

They added that three men and five women, aged between 20 and 47, are being investigated following an islandwide anti-scam enforcement operation on Wednesday and Thursday by their Anti-Scam Command.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the eight people purportedly received illicit proceeds from the rental scams in their bank accounts.

"They had come across job or loan advertisements, phishing links, or gambling websites, and had allegedly relinquished bank accounts or disclosed their personal details for various purposes, such as for easy money or obtaining loans," said the police.

For allegedly relinquishing their bank accounts, they may be fined up to $5,000, jailed for up to two years, or both.

Police said parties should verify the legitimacy of a property listing by ensuring that the contact numbers match the ones on the Council for Estate Agencies website, where details on agencies are listed.

The police added that no payments should be made to secure house viewings as property agents are not authorised to handle cash transactions.

Private home prices in Singapore surged 10.6 per cent last year, the highest annual growth recorded since 2010.

Meanwhile, prices for Housing Board resale flats edged up for the 22nd straight month in April.

A four-room unit at Pinnacle@Duxton resold for $1.228 million - the most paid for a four-room flat - while a five-room flat in Henderson Road changed hands for $1.4 million earlier this month.

The rental prices for HDB flats and private apartments had also hit new highs in April amid a dip in leasing volumes.

In their advisory, police said to avoid becoming involved in money-laundering activities, members of the public should always reject requests to allow their bank accounts to be used to receive and transfer money for others.

They are also reminded to be wary of unknown numbers with the "+65" prefix, especially on WhatsApp.

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