Stake out leads to arrest of alleged cheat

HE APPARENTLY preyed on unsuspecting tenants in search of rental units. Over a period of 10 months, he was said to have cheated them of more than $100,000 in more than 50 cases island-wide.

On the run since last year, the 33-year-old unemployed man was arrested in a stake out early yesterday.

According to preliminary police investigations, between April last year and last month, he had collected advance rental payments of up to six months from his victims, mostly permanent residents and foreigners. He then became uncontactable each time.

The alleged culprit was “elusive as he had no fixed place of abode” and had been “skipping hotels frequently”, the Police said in a statement late last night.

But the Tanglin Police Division, which had set up a task force comprising officers from various units to catch him, finally received information yesterday which led them to a hotel in the Serangoon Road area, where they arrested him at 4.15am. The suspect will appear in court today. If found guilty, faces a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine for each cheating offence.

Today had reported in November about how rental scams in Singapore are on the rise, and the Police yesterday advised the public “to exercise due diligence when paying advance rental payments, especially when the demands are not in accordance with market norms”. The first step is to verify ownership of the property.

Source : Today – 10 Feb 2009