Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fake Landlord Cheats Expat Of $1,400

Source : The Electric New Paper, July 15, 2008

He's not only victim who paid man deposit to rent Farrer Park flat

HE fell in love with the flat the moment he saw it - so much so that he signed a tenancy agreement on the spot.

Mr Bhattacharjee and his wife liked the flat so much, he signed the tenancy agreement that very day. -- Picture: CHOO CHWEE HUA

But perhaps, he was a tad too hasty in making the decision.

Now, Indian national Rohan Bhattacharjee, who is in Singapore on an employment pass, is $1,400 poorer.

The money was for a rental deposit on a two-room flat at Farrer Park.

But two days before he was due to move in, Mr Bhattacharjee's 'landlord' disappeared.

Mr Bhattacharjee, 27, has been unable to contact the man since. The New Paper understands that the 'landlord' Mr Bhattacharjee dealt with is not the owner of the flat.

Mr Bhattacharjee, who came to Singapore in 2004, previously rented a room in a three-room flat in Bukit Batok. He is here with his wife, 19, also an Indian national.

On 23 May, he saw a newspaper advertisement offering the Farrer Park unit for rent. He decided to view the flat four days later as it was nearer his workplace at City Hall.

He works in a law firm as a clients liaison manager.


He said of the flat: 'It was clean and well-furnished. It was also big enough for my parents to stay if they visit me from India.'

The monthly rent of $1,600 was reasonable, he thought.

Though he had other viewing appointments for other units, he and his wife were so happy with the Farrer Park flat they signed the tenancy agreement immediately.

Mr Bhattacharjee paid the 'landlord', whom he described as a man in his early 30s, a deposit of $1,400. They arranged to meet on 13Jun to settle the $200 balance and for Mr Bhattacharjee to get the keys.

But on that day, the 'landlord' did not show up for their meeting at the flat. His handphone was turned off when Mr Bhattacharjee called.

He could not reach the man for the next two days either.

On 15Jun, Mr Bhattacharjee left a note for the man on the door of the flat, asking the latter to call him.

The next day, he got a call, but not from the 'landlord'. Instead, it was a fellow Indian national, who told him he was working here as a doctor.

Mr Bhattacharjee said: 'He told me he also signed a tenancy agreement with the same man.'

They met the next day and the other man showed Mr Bhattacharjee his agreement.

'He signed it one day after I did!' Mr Bhattacharjee said.

After advising the man to make a police report, Mr Bhattacharjee did so himself the next day. The police said they are investigating the matter.

Mr Bhattacharjee said he did not hear from the other man again and has lost his contact number.

But they may not be the only victims.

A neighbour who lives next to the Farrer Park unit, who gave his name only as Mr Feng, told The New Paper that five different men had turned up at the flat within a week.

'They told me they rented the flat and were looking for the owner. They showed me photos of the man from whom they rented the flat.'

But Mr Feng, who moved into his flat only at the start of July, did not recognise the man in the photos.

'I met a man who told me he was the flat's owner and he does not look like the man in the picture. I don't think it is the same person.'

Mr Bhattacharjee said: 'I think the man (with whom I signed the tenancy agreement) could have been a tenant.'

He said he has given up hope of getting his money back and has deleted the man's number from his handphone.

'What can I do? I will take it that I lost my wallet with $1,400 inside,' he said.

When The New Paper visited the flat on 4 Jul, no one came to the door.

We saw an orange plastic bag wedged between the door and the gate. But it was gone when we went back three days later. We went again two days later and still, no one was home.

Mr Bhattacharjee is now renting a room in a Bendemeer flat and said he would go through an agent the next time he wants to rent a flat.

He said: 'Even if I find the man, I may not get my money back. I just want to share my story so others can be careful.'

Fiona Liaw, newsroom intern

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