New 'room to let' scam

New 'room to let' scam
File photo of workers crammed into a room which they were scammed into renting.
PHOTO: The New Paper

KUALA LUMPUR - There appears to be a new scam in town and it is targeting people who are looking to rent a place.

A nurse who wishes to be known only as Charmaine was almost conned by a "Mr Sim" and his wife "Madam Chew" after she contacted them about a room the couple was leasing out in Singapore.

They had advertised a one-bedroom apartment on a legitimate rental website for S$500 (RM1,513) monthly, cheaper than the average range of between S$900 (RM2,762) and S$1,500 (RM4,543) per month.

Charmaine, 22, was scheduled to start work at a private hospital in Singapore.

She and the couple communicated solely through e-mail and WhatsApp.

"Sim said he's a reverend and a missionary in China while Chew is supposedly deaf," she told a press conference at Wisma MCA here yesterday.

Charmaine did not suspect anything amiss until she was asked to help forward a payment from a previous tenant to Chew.

The previous tenant was said to be in Malaysia and owed them five months' rental amounting to RM4,270.

"They said since I am taking over the room and I am depositing my money for the lease, I could also forward the former tenant's money as Sim was out of the country and Chew could not communicate through phone.

"The former tenant, Nalini, banked in the amount to my account," she said.

However, alarm bells rang for the nurse when she was told to transfer the money via MoneyGram Online to a man named Adeniyi Oluwasegun Adebajo in South Africa.

Scared that she was involved in a scam, Charmaine immediately closed her bank account and lodged a police report.

She also returned the money to Nalini, who turned out to be another victim of the couple.

"Nalini was told by them that I was Chew's personal assistant," Charmaine said.

MCA Public Service and Complaints Department chief Datuk Seri Michael Chong said although the complainant did not suffer any losses due to her quick-thinking, the same could not be said for other victims.

"There are many scammers out there preying on gullible people. It used to be 'love scams' where they make you fall in love with them and part with your money but now scammers have a new modus operandi.

"It appears here that the scammers would collect deposit money from victims without them even seeing the room," he said.

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