Agent jailed two years for rental scam

A property agent was sentenced to two years in jail yesterday for running a rental scam.

Goh Tzan En duped 25 people into believing he had secured units for them to rent when he knew the flats were not on the market, or had already been rented out.

He also tricked a 59-year-old man into paying an additional $5,000 to buy a flat in Jurong West in July last year.

The total amount involved in all 27 charges was $91,474, of which only $1,500 had been paid back.

Goh, 49, admitted to nine counts of cheating, and the rest were taken into consideration in sentencing.

Investigations showed that between last October and February this year, 25 people, mostly foreigners, responded to online advertisements Goh had posted. They met Goh, who was then with real estate company Era Realty, and signed rental agreements.

Goh made his victims pay him cash for advance rental, security deposits, stamp fees and agent's fees, although the move-in dates were far in the future.

He subsequently came up with various excuses for why his clients could not move into the units, and promised to refund the money to them. But he never did, and was later uncontactable.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin said this was not a one-off incident, but serial cheating.

Not only did the victims lose money, they were also subjected to unnecessary stress and anxiety, he said.

Goh, who was allowed to start his sentence on June 12, could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each charge.

This article was first published on May 20, 2015.
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