WHEN a former schoolmate dangled a promise of handsome returns, a 28-year-old salesman said he and his cousin invested $26,000 in a security project supposedly awarded by the Housing Board (HDB).
But the salesman - who wants to be known only as Mr Lim - added that he has since found out there is no such project.
According to a report in Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao on Monday, Mr Lim had met his former schoolmate, also 28, eight years ago at a private school.
The schoolmate - who wanted to be known only as Chris - contacted Mr Lim on Dec 10 last year.
Mr Lim told Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News in a report on Monday that Chris said he had been awarded an exclusive contract by HDB to install 3G smart home security for up to 500,000 homes.
But he needed investors to add to the $700,000 he had already pumped into the project.
Mr Lim told Wanbao: "He guaranteed that I would earn profits of more than a million dollars a year if I bought a 3 per cent stake in his company for $50,000."
Together with his cousin, a 23-year-old foodcourt manager, they scraped up $26,000 and handed the cheque to Chris as a deposit.
Chris showed them the contract which bore the HDB logo, watermark and a staff member's signature.
But a lawyer, whom Mr Lim and his cousin checked with later, said the contract was "not crafted professionally and was full of loopholes".
HDB told them there was no such project.
Shin Min reported that Mr Lim looked up the residential address provided by Chris online, only to find that no one lived there.
When confronted, Chris insisted that the contract was genuine and accompanied the cousins when they went to file a police report.
After posting about his experience online, Mr Lim said at least four other people contacted him saying they had experienced a similar situation, though they did not mention Chris' name.
Chris has denied cheating the cousins and added that they had given him only $1,000.
"They said they didn't have enough money, so I used my own name to write a $25,000 cheque for them to use as their deposit," he told Wanbao on Monday.
Chris, who has been in interior design for seven years, said a friend introduced him to a female HDB employee, who said it was interested in a smart home security system he had invented.
After negotiating, they signed a contract at a Starbucks outlet near Toa Payoh HDB Hub in September last year.
"If the contract is really fake, I'm also a victim," said Chris.
Responding to My Paper queries yesterday, an HDB spokesman said: "The 3G Smart Home Security project is not an HDB project."
She added that members of the public who have been misled or suspect that they have been misled by parties claiming to be HDB contractors should report the matter to the police.
The police confirmed that a report has been lodged and investigations are ongoing.
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