Police warn of rental scams involving fake property listings; at least S$190,000 lost since January
SINGAPORE: Rental scams involving fake property listings have proliferated in Singapore, with at least S$190,000 lost by 144 victims since January this year, the Singapore Police Force said on Monday (Mar 21).
In this scam variant, scammers post fake property listings on websites and contact victims through WhatsApp pretending to be property agents.
The scammers then ask the victims for deposits in order to secure appointments to view the properties.
“In these cases, the victims are typically led to a WhatsApp chat from unknown numbers with the ‘+65’ prefix after clicking on a link on the advertisement,” the police said in a news release.
“Using spoofed numbers to liaise with the victims, these scammers would use photos, names and licence numbers of legitimate property agents that can be found on rental websites to deceive victims into believing that they are legitimate property agents.”
Victims are told that the deposits are refundable, and they are provided with bank account numbers or phone numbers to which they have to transfer the money.
“Victims would only discover that they had been scammed after the scammers ceased contact with them,” the police said.
The police said that payments should not be made before house viewings as property agents are not authorised to handle cash transactions.
The police also advised members of the public to be wary of numbers with the +65 prefix – especially on WhatsApp – as well as property listings on “alternative platforms”.
“Verify the legitimacy of a listing by ensuring that the contact number matches the one on the Council for Estate Agencies’ website, where details on agencies are listed,” they said.