CEA Case Studies – Prosecution and Disciplinary Cases

Prosecution and Disciplinary Cases

1. Tan Cher Peng, the first unregistered salesperson to be charged by CEA in Court on 1 June 2011 for practising as a salesperson when he was not registered with CEA and not authorised by a licensed estate agent to carry out estate agency work. He was also charged for making a false statement to CEA when he applied to be registered.He was sentenced on 12 January 2012 to imprisonment of 1 month for the false declaration and an aggregate fine of $32,000 for carrying out estate agency work without registration and without an agreement with a licensed estate agent. Please see media release issued by CEA.
2. Sim Soon Leong Raymond was charged in Court on 20 October 2011 for practising as a salesperson when he was not registered with CEA and not authorised by a licensed estate agent to carry out estate agency work.Sim had assumed the identity of a bona fide registered salesperson when he introduced himself to a couple who were interested in buying an HDB property. His identity was exposed when the latter checked the Public Register and discovered that the photograph shown did not look the same as Sim. They reported the matter to CEA and Sim was eventually sentenced on 25 May 2012 to a fine of $40,000, or in default 8 weeks imprisonment, in respect of two property transactions. Please see media release issued by CEA.
3. Kee Lee Ping was charged for failing to declare her interests which were in conflict with those of the buyers (her clients) as the sellers were her husband and parents-in-law. She also failed to comply with HDB resale procedures. She had facilitated the buyers to enter into a supplemental agreement to extend the sellers’ stay beyond completion. She also arranged the sellers to grant the Option to Purchase (OTP) on the same day as the completion of the Sellers’ Resale Checklist – which was not allowed within the 7 days of “cooling off period”.Two remaining charges were taken in consideration in sentencing that Kee had asked the sellers to sign an undated OTP and she had made a false declaration in her salesperson’s Statutory Declaration that the buyers and sellers had not entered into a supplemental or other agreement other than the standard HDB’s OTP.

Kee was sentenced by the CEA’s Disciplinary Committee (DC) on 25 June 2012 to a total suspension of 3 months and an aggregate fine of $4,000. In addition, the DC awarded $1,000 as costs to CEA. Please see media release issued by CEA.

Advice to Consumers:

Verify the identity of your salesperson using the Public Register.
Ignore advertisements (printed or online) that do not carry details of the salesperson such as his/her registration number.
Report to CEA if you encounter any persons who are carrying out estate agency work but who are not listed on the Public Register or any misconduct or misrepresentation by a saleperson.

Rental Cases

4. A 53-year-old man who is believed to be involved in at least two cases of rental scams was arrested by the Police in October 2011. Please see media release issued by the Police.
5.

A consumer engaged a salesperson to assist her to look for an unit to rent. The salesperson found a unit and the consumer was satisfied with the location and agreed to rent the unit at $1,500 per month. Besides the rental deposit and first month rental payment, she also paid the salesperson $7,500 in advance for him to pay the subsequent 6 months rentals to the unit owner.

However, the salesperson failed to make the subsequent 6 months rental payments on behalf of consumer to the owner. Instead, he used the monies for his own purposes. The salesperson was eventually found guilty and sentenced to a 6-month imprisonment.

6. A landlord, who is not residing in Singapore, has engaged a salesperson to rent out her unit. The tenants had been remitting the rental directly to the landlord’s bank account. However, the salesperson approached them to pay the rentals to him directly. He claimed that the landlord’s son was studying in Singapore and that relatives visiting Singapore also required money. He collected $14,000 worth of rental from the tenants while the landlord was not in Singapore. He went on to spend the money without the landlord’s consent. The salesperson was eventually found guilty and sentenced to a 15-month imprisonment.
7.

Ang, a former registered salesperson, was sentenced on 25 June 2013 to three weeks’ imprisonment for criminal breach of trust and forgery. Ang was prosecuted by the Police earlier for failing to return a complainant his rental deposit when the rental deal was called off. He represented the landlord in the rental transaction.

The complainant had paid a rental deposit of $2,900 to the landlord through Ang to rent the landlord’s apartment at a monthly rental of $2,900. An agreement was prepared and signed on the same day. Later that day, Ang informed the complainant that the landlord wanted to increase the monthly rental to $3,000. The complainant disagreed and decided to call off the deal. He requested for his deposit to be returned to him and Ang said he would get it back from the landlord.

Ang subsequently issued the complainant an invalid cash cheque and was questioned by the complainant. Ang issued another cheque but it was dishonoured due to insufficient funds in his account. Ang then admitted that he had squandered the money that the landlord handed him, and the complainant filed a Police report.

8.

Tang Yong Yeow Daniar, a former registered salesperson, was charged in court by the Police and sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment for more than 50 cheating offences and one stamp duty offence. He had colluded with the landlord and cheated many potential tenants of their rental monies, and also used a counterfeit stamp certificate.

In one of his rental scams, Tang had offered to rent a property to a tenant in July 2012. He collected $3,520 in advance from the prospective tenant, including $120 purportedly for the stamp duty on the rental agreement. The prospective tenant requested the stamp certificate from Tang when the handing over of the property did not take place as scheduled. Using a genuine stamp certificate obtained from a previous property transaction, Tang forged the stamp certificate by altering details such as the address, name of the landlord and tenant, stamp duty amount, stamp certificate issued date, and date of document. The counterfeit stamp certificate was then given to the tenant. When the property failed to be handed over a second time, the tenant realised she had fallen for a rental scam and lodged reports with the Police and CEA. For using a counterfeit stamp certificate, Tang was sentenced on 6 Sep 2013 to six weeks jail. Please see media release issued by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

To check the authenticity of stamp certificates, visit the IRAS’s e-Stamping website https://estamping.iras.gov.sg. An authentic stamp certificate should bear the full details of the stamp duty payment, description of the document, address of the property, stamp duty amount, and date of document. All these details should also match the information shown on the e-Stamping website. If the stamp certificate appears dubious or incomplete, please email IRAS at estamp@iras.gov.sg or call 6351 3697/3698.

9.

Tan, a former salesperson, was sentenced on 13 Feb 2014 to two years imprisonment for his role in a rental scam that targeted foreign nationals. He was introduced to J by a man known as Ah Lai, who asked Tan to conduct open house viewings of J’s HDB flat as Tan owed money to licensed moneylenders. Tan and J then collected deposits, advance rent and fees from these potential tenants, and told them the money would be returned to them if they did not succeed in securing the unit. Tan would pocket between $100 to $250 each time as payment for his role in the scam. The victims suspected something was amiss when they found that there were other people staying in the unit. They asked for a refund, but did not get their money.

Tan pleaded guilty to three charges which involved a total sum of $14,000. Five other similar cheating charges were taken into consideration during sentencing. He also admitted to stealing his girlfriend’s Omega watch worth $2,900 as well as her pendant.

Advice to Consumers:

Do not hand over any transaction monies to your salesperson.
Salespersons are not allowed to handle any transaction monies, including rental deposits and rentals. Transaction monies also include option fee, downpayment, stamp duties, deposits and sales proceeds, in the sale or purchase of your property. Valuation fees and commissions are not regarded as transaction monies.

Source: CEA – Updated on 23-May-2014

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