Online home rental scams in Singapore increased by over 400 per cent in 2022
The number of cases went from 192 in 2021 to 979 in 2022.
SINGAPORE — Home rental scams perpetrated through online platforms increased by more than 400 per cent from 192 cases in 2021 to 979 cases in 2022, said Minister of State for Home Affairs Sun Xueling in Parliament on Tuesday (9 May).
She was replying to Pasir Ris-Punggol Member of Parliament Yeo Wan Ling, who had asked whether the number of home rental scams using online platforms had increased in the past 12 months and whether the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will consider introducing further safeguards to protect homeowners whose homes have been used in such scams from liabilities.
In her reply, Sun said such cases generally involved scammers impersonating property agents and listing home rentals on online platforms.
Victims who come across these listings would contact the scammers via the phone numbers on the listings. The scammers would then impersonate legitimate property agents by sending the victims pictures of a legitimate property agent's business card and pictures or videos of the home units to be leased.
Sun added that there were also cases where the scammers posed as landlords.
"In both these variants, the scammers would inform the victims that they are required to place a deposit, in order to secure a viewing or to rent the unit. After the victims transfer the monies to the scammers, the scammers would become uncontactable," she said.
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Homeowners whose homes have been used in such scams, "will not be penalised unless they are involved in perpetrating these scams", Sun said.
Sun also noted that the police have been working with online platforms to remove suspicious accounts and advertisements, and are also working with the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) to include advisories on rental scams on social media.
How to prevent getting scammed
"The best defence is a vigilant and discerning public. We encourage the public to verify the identity of the persons with whom you are dealing with. If the person claims to be a property agent, please verify their identity via the CEA Public Register," minister said.
"You can also contact the person’s property agency, before entering into any dealings with them. If a search of the advertised phone number does not lead to the property agent's profile page, this could be an indication that the listing is a scam, even if the property agent's name or registration number has been verified against the CEA Public Register," said the minister.
Scam victims in Singapore lost a total of S$660.7 million in 2022, which was up 4.5 per cent from S$632 million the year before.
The public can visit scamalert.sg or call the anti-scam hotline at 1800-7226688 for more information. Anyone with information on such scams may call the police hotline at 1800-2550000 or submit information online.
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