Sweet-talked into parting with money

Sweet-talked into parting with money

KUALA LUMPUR - A sweet-talking man claiming to be a property manager fleeced thousands of ringgit from people who invested in a columbarium project he promoted but turned out to be non-existent.

Victims described him as "a charismatic fellow" who dazzled prospective investors with beautiful artist impressions of the columbarium - to keep urns of ashes from cremated bodies - and claimed that the location had good fengshui.

Six men have lodged police reports against the suspect, known to them only as Cheong, who approached them separately between 2008 and 2010 to promote the so-called investment opportunity in Kota Tinggi, Johor.

"I didn't think to look at whether the project was real because he was so convincing," said Tan Boon Chuan, spokesman for the six. "He sold one niche unit for RM500 (S$195) and said we can earn back double the amount when it opens this year."

"But until now, the land that he said he was building on is still empty and is owned by a different company," said Tan.

He said the man ran off with RM30,000 of his money and refused to answer his calls after that.

Tan, 54, claimed that the man's office in Kelana Jaya in Selangor had also ceased operations, leading him to believe that he had been scammed.

Retiree Chiam Chow Te, 67, who also invested in the project, said he went to the site where the columbarium was to be constructed and was shocked to find it was vacant.

"When I called Cheong and asked him what was going on, he threatened me, saying he was a bomb and ammunition expert and would blow up my house if I kept calling," Chiam claimed, adding that he lost RM5,000 in the scam.

MCA public service and complaints department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong said he had encountered cases involving the con man, adding that Cheong was believed to have cheated around 30 victims to the tune of about RM2.5mil.

"I advise the public to be wary of such people coming with offers over dubious property that sounds too good to be true," he said.

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