Ex-clients demand $200k from debt collector

Ex-clients demand $200k from debt collector

A woman whose job is to chase people to pay their debts is now being pursued by her former clients instead - they are demanding that she hand over more than $200,000 she had collected.

At least 16 police reports were made between May and July this year against Ms Hanizah Hamzah, 44, a former dispute resolutions director with debt collector JMS Roger's Associates.

The police confirmed the reports but declined to comment as investigations are ongoing.

Those who made the reports have demanded that Ms Hanizah hand over the sums her firm had collected on behalf of clients as well as service charges paid to her firm, totalling more than $200,000.

One former client is Ms Huang, 38, a businesswoman who hired Ms Hanizah's firm last September to collect US$100,000 (S$128,000) from her friend.

The full sum of $142,600, including interest for the debt, was recovered two months later but was not returned to Ms Huang.

Ms Huang, who last met Ms Hanizah, better known as Riza, in June this year, said: "She gave me five post-dated cheques which bounced. She said that her company was facing some problems.

"When I went to her company's Facebook page, I saw many posts from others (making claims about) their money.

"Riza then told me that she has quarrelled with a shareholder of her company and she has started another company," added Ms Huang, who declined to give her full name.

She lodged a police report on June 11 and has not tried to contact Ms Hanizah since.

Another former client, who wanted to be known only as Ms Lee, 59, said she had paid $4,000 to one of Ms Hanizah's staff to recover a debt of $50,000 from her friend last November.

"I have never heard from them since," she said. She does not know if the money owed to her has been collected as she has lost contact with her friend.

"It was in June (this year) that another friend of mine alerted me to the company's problem after she saw a notice in the newspapers," added Ms Lee.

The owner of JMS Rogers, Mr Roger Rajan N. Nadar, had published a notice in The Straits Times on June 3, to state that he has "terminated the master licensing agreement with JMS Roger's Associates" on April 3 this year.

Said Mr Roger: "When I found out the mess that JMS Roger's Associates was in, I contacted the clients and urged them to make a police report. They (the firm) are taking me for a ride on my name and tarnishing my image."

When contacted last week, Ms Hanizah, who is now working for debt-collection firm J. Moses Spartans, insisted that she did not abscond with her clients' money.

Asked why she did not return the money she had helped collect for Ms Huang, Ms Hanizah said: "I have 15 debt collectors working on 700 cases. My company's overheads were very high.

"I would need to get more business in so that I could pay her."

She claimed that Ms Huang refused to pay the 20 per cent commission for debts collected, so she held back payment.

But Ms Huang disputed this, saying the commission was not indicated in the contract she had signed with the firm.

Ms Hanizah also said she could not contact her clients from JMS Roger's Associates after Mr Roger terminated the licensing agreement. "After he took back the company's domain, I have no access to my e-mail account and I wasn't able to contact any of the existing clients," she said.

Referring to Ms Huang, she said: "It's unfortunate that the company's licensing problem arose when we tried to pay her in June this year."

Ms Hanizah, who is married with five children, said she had been "making many trips to police stations".

"Because of this, most of my clients don't trust me anymore. But it's not going to put me down," she said.

This article was first published on Oct 6, 2014.
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