VIPs duped in PR1MA housing scam

Some of the victims were told they could buy houses in Bangsar under the PR1MA scheme. — Picture by Hafiz Sohaimi
Some of the victims were told they could buy houses in Bangsar under the PR1MA scheme. — Picture by Hafiz Sohaimi

PETALING JAYA, April 15 — Scores of individuals, including the rich and influential, who sought to buy houses they were not entitled to, have lost substantial sums of money to four women claiming to be agents of the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Scheme (PR1MA). 

Many of the victims already own houses and are aware they are not eligible to buy the  medium— and low-cost properties under the PR1MA housing scheme meant only for first-time buyers. 

The victims are also not eligible to buy the houses because they are earning more than RM10,000. 

One of them, a Datin, told Malay Mail she and several other buyers only realised they were cheated when they could not find their “dream” homes during a site visit. 

“We paid between RM2,500 and RM7,000 to a group of women but when we went to the site in Taman Cempaka, Ampang, we found out there were already houses in the area which were occupied,” she said. 

“We asked the residents and were told there is no empty land in the area.”

Ampang Jaya police chief ACP Khairuldin Saad confirmed that 38 victims had come forward after a police report was lodged by the Datin last Wednesday.

“We have recorded statements from 10 victims and will continue taking statements from the others, most of whom were found to be ineligible for the PR1MA housing,” he said.

“We have identified the suspects and we are tracking them down.”

Khairuldin described the suspects as slick in manipulating their victims and gaining their trust. He estimated the losses incurred by the 38 victims amounted to more than RM150,000. 

In her statement to the police, the Datin said the group had given her two briefings on “shortcuts” to obtain the houses.

The group first approached her on Sept 5 last year and offered an easy way to obtain a PR1MA house in a booming urban neighbourhood. 

She was told that although she did not qualify for a house under the scheme, she would be able to obtain one through the “back door” as the group was selling units under a “director’s quota” through a private company. 

After meeting the four women twice, the Datin made two payments — RM5,000 on Sept 21 and RM2,000 the next day. 

She was convinced she had secured a sweet deal as the four women handed her application forms from Kuala Lumpur City Hall.  

The payments were for the “purchase” of a semi-detached house and a town house in Ara Damansara and an apartment unit in Ampang. 

On Oct 15, the Datin shared details of her deal with 50 of her friends in an online chat group and arranged for meetings with the four women in her office in Jalan Ampang, during which 20 of them paid deposits to the suspects.

A month later, the Datin became sceptical after watching a television news report that the government had not appointed any agents to sell PR1MA houses. 

She immediately contacted one of the women for an explanation but the woman claimed she was not an agent and had instead received authorisation from the prime minister to sell the houses. 

To convince the Datin, the woman showed her a list of police and army personnel who had bought houses from the group. 

The Datin realised something was amiss when the suspects began avoiding her calls whenever she queried them about the status of the housing project. 

On April 1, the Datin and her friends formed a Whatsapp chat group after the suspects refused to refund their deposits. 

They believe there are many others from Perak, Johor, Terengganu and Malacca who have fallen prey to the scam. 

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