SINGAPORE: Ten people linked to a series of housing loan cashback scams totalling S$11.4 million were charged in court on Tuesday (Dec 3) for offences ranging from cheating, using forged documents and criminal breach of trust.
The group is made up of nine men and one woman, aged between between 34 and 63, who were said to play different roles in the scam, including facilitators, property sellers, nominee buyers, property agents and a conveyancing lawyer.
The alleged housing loan cashback scams occurred in 2014 and 2015, with sale prices of four properties artificially inflated to increase the amounts of bank loans they could get.
The four properties were in the north of Singapore, located at Saraca Terrace, Jalan Kerayong, Woodgrove Walk and Limbok Terrace, charge sheets show.
Based on forged income documents, one bank was allegedly deceived into disbursing loans of S$8.5 million for three out of four mortgage applications. The three properties were later sold by the bank at a loss of more than S$2.9 million.
The men accused of facilitating the scams are 49-year-old Bijabahadur Rai Shree Kantrai, 39-year-old Sufandi Ahmad, and Kok Chiew Leong, 46.
They allegedly made arrangements with sellers Mohamad Hamzi Rabu, 50, and 63-year-old Lau Ai Geck, and their property agents Mohamed Haron Hassan, 38, and Juma'at Johari, 39.
They agreed to purchase the sellers' properties at a pre-agreed price, but used an inflated price to apply for bank loans.
After the sales were completed, the sellers would return to the facilitators any money received in excess of the pre-agreed price.
The three facilitators, who face between 11 and 14 charges each, allegedly recruited nominee buyers Iswandi Yahya, 37, and 34-year-old Saiful Azri Ali Amat, and submitted forged income documents to banks for loans.
Conveyancing lawyer Mohammed Lutfi Hussin, 53, is accused of falsely certifying that a mortgage for the property at 35 Saraca Terrace was correct.
The scam was uncovered when the nominee buyers defaulted on the loans, police said in a statement on Monday.
Several of the 10 people received only one charge each, but the three purported facilitators each received more than 10 charges.
The offences for the group that draw the heaviest maximum penalties are criminal breach of trust as a servant and cheating and dishonestly inducing the delivery of property.
For the former, the maximum sentence is a 15-year jail term and a fine, while the latter is punishable by up to 10 years' jail and a fine.
The 10 will return to court at later dates for further mentions of their cases.