Agent targeted foreigners in rental scam

A PART-TIME property agent duped eight foreigners in a rental scam and collected nearly $22,000 for herself and her accomplices.

Razieya Mohamed Ali was jailed for 11 months by a district court yesterday.

From November 2008 to February last year, the 34-year-old divorcee would post flats-for-rent advertisements on the Internet and invite foreigners working here to view the premises.

To entice them to sign the tenancy agreement after they had seen the flats, she would offer very low rents. She knew that the flats were occupied and by the time her victims found out, she and her accomplices would be long gone.

However, the police tracked her down.

She initially denied the charges and on the first day of the trial on Nov 30, her friend turned up instead. She claimed that Razieya had been raped by her former husband and was in no condition to attend court proceedings.

No police report or medical certificate was offered.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Santhra Aiyyasamy said yesterday that Razieya did not attend any police interview to substantiate the accusation.

Yesterday, the prosecutor asked for a deterrent sentence as Razieya had targeted foreigners, who were vulnerable to such scams.

Two of her accomplices were dealt with last year. Axley Alexander Ryan Shah, 40, a serial offender, was sentenced to six years’ jail while Letchimi Kasinathan, 52, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years.

A third accomplice, Arul Rajoo Michael Rajoo, 39, remains at large.

The court heard that in January last year, he hatched a plan with Razieya and Ryan to offer his leased flat for rent to foreigners and to cheat them of the deposit and rental. Their victims included Chinese, Filipino, Indian and Myanmar nationals.

Razieya also conspired with Letchimi, whose son stayed in a rented flat in Lengkok Bahru, near Jalan Bukit Merah. Without his knowledge, they offered it to Mr Jun Ojima, 43, a Japanese working here as a golf coach, for $1,000 a month on Jan 1 last year.

He handed over a deposit of $1,000 but two days later, he complained that the rent was too high and the two women lowered it to $700 on the condition that he pay up six months in advance.

Payment was made but before he could move in, Razieya cancelled the agreement.

Source : Straits Times – 11 Mar 2010

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