KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — More than 70 people in Johor have been left poorer after they were tricked into paying RM13,000 each as a “downpayment” for Johor Affordable Homes (RMMJ).
The Star reported that the victims of the biggest RMMJ scam to date had handed their money to “middlemen” who promised that the houses would be ready by the end of 2018.
However, the over 10 conmen they spoke to have since disappeared or given excuses about project delays.
Victim Nurazwin Aziz reportedly told the English daily that she befriended a woman in the middle of last year who informed her of the housing project in Bandar Dato Onn.
“The woman told me that she could help get the RMMJ houses as she was a property broker who had connections with the state’s housing secretariat,” she reportedly said.
She said her brother-in-law also fell for the scam and paid RM13,000 to the same woman to get another house in the same project.
Apparently, the woman brought Nurazwin and her brother in law to view the houses at the project site and claimed that she would handle the loan procedures for the RM130,000 house.
“We decided to lodge a police report and now the woman claims that she too was cheated in this scam,” Nurazwin reportedly said.
The 27-year-old woman said she only wanted her money back as this was her savings to buy a house in Johor and that her dream of buying a house was destroyed by the syndicate who preyed on those desperate for a home.
Johor Housing and Rural Development Committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad admitted that this was the biggest RMMJ scam so far and warned the public who want to purchase a house to do it online and not via middlemen.
“It is shocking as there are many victims. We have advised them to lodge reports and we hope the police will investigate and take action against those responsible.
“We have also done our own internal checks and found that the SUK Perumahan employee named by the conmen does not exist.
“There are scammers who try to take advantage of people who want to own houses,” he said adding that SUK Perumahan staff have been warned against involvement with the scammers.
An unnamed police official had reportedly said the cases will be investigated under Section 420 Penal Code for cheating and that SUK Perumahan should tighten its online application procedures to prevent middlemen from getting involved.
He added that it should be compulsory for RMMJ applicants to personally apply online or at SUK Perumahan offices as the police have found that some middlemen had charged fees to put in applications for others.
The syndicates charge thousands of ringgit as fees for a free application process.