Rental scams

Impersonated by Scammers: Rental Scam Nightmare


When I first received the following WhatsApp message from Joanne (a fellow property agent) on the morning of 2 April 2022, I had no idea that it would lead me down a rabbit hole of rental scams and heartbreaking stories.

Joanne: “Jack, is this your name card?”

Me: “Yes, that’s me. Why do you have it? I’ve stopped giving out name cards for years.”

Joanne: “Sent to me by my friend who is looking to rent something. The numbers on the name card caused my friend to think that it is a scam. Just wanted to alert you.”

Numbers? My phone numbers?

I took a closer look at the image of the name card again.

That’s my pic. That’s my name.

Wait a minute. The printed email address & contact numbers aren’t mine!

"My" doctored namecard
“My” doctored name card

Joanne’s friend felt strange to see two landline numbers printed on the name card. He had expected to see a mobile number.


A disturbing pattern emerged as I delved deeper into the scammer’s tactics.

They would seek out unsuspecting tenants who had posted “rental property wanted” ads, luring them in with beautiful pictures and attractive prices.

The catch?

The landlord was conveniently away, and the unit couldn’t be viewed. The scammer, posing as me, would then pressure the tenant to sign the tenancy agreement and pay the money, playing on their fear of losing the unit to other interested parties.

Joanne’s friend almost transferred the money to the scammer when a question flashed in his mind.

“How do I know if this name card is a legitimate name card?”

That’s when he decided to check with Joanne. He had managed to dodge a bullet.


I made a police report that same morning.

The next day, I had a missed call & received a disturbing email.

“May I check with you about the listing @ Holland Drive to follow up? Would you like to give me a call to talk about it?”

I called this person back & my worst fears were confirmed.

She had paid $1,600 to a scammer impersonating me.

Over the next ten days, more than 20 other tenants contacted me.

Fortunately, most didn’t transfer the payment to the scammer, but it was a harrowing and traumatising experience for those who did.

I could feel the victims’ pain, frustration, and helplessness.

My chat with scam victim 1
My chat with scam victim 1
My chat with scam victim 2
My chat with scam victim 2
My chat with scam victim 3
My chat with scam victim 3
My chat with victim 4
My chat with scam victim 4

When Channel 8’s <狮城有约> reached out to me two weeks later, I knew I had to seize the opportunity to create greater awareness about rental scams.

Together with one of the victims, we shared our experiences and insights, hoping to prevent others from falling into the same trap.

Interview with one of the scam victims:

For the benefit of those who don’t understand Mandarin, this was what the victim shared:

  • The victim felt the scammer was acting professionally, helpfully, and caringly. However, she hesitated when asked to sign the contract and make payment without first viewing the unit.
  • But the fear of losing the unit overwhelmed her.
  • She finally decided to proceed after her friend did an online search using my name & saw favourable reviews.

The next part wasn’t mentioned in the interview.

She contacted me at my registered business email and contact number (she found them online) only after she felt something was wrong. That’s when she realised she had been scammed.

My interview with the show’s hosts:

The main points I covered in the video:


The demand for rental units (in short supply) is very strong right now. As a result, tenants are very fearful of missing out on rental properties.

This situation creates the opportunity for scammers to prey on their fear.


The scammers are right now impersonating licensed property agents. Every piece of info on the name card is correct except for:

  • contact number
  • email address

The contact number & email address shown belong to the scammers.

As a tenant, you can take the following precautions:

a) Verify if you are dealing with a licenced property agent

Visit CEA’s public register and enter the property agent’s contact number. If the search doesn’t return any result, there is a 99.9% chance this property agent is a scammer.

Now, there are property agents who have more than one contact number.

You can give the property agent another chance by asking for their CEA-registered contact number and then searching the CEA website again.

If the search returns an agent’s record, it means you are dealing with a legitimate agent.

(b) Verify the ownership info

Do an ownership search on the property you are interested in renting.

You can check who owns the property by visiting the SLA or IRAS website. Please note that this check is payable.

Use a cheque or cashier’s order to make the necessary rental payment to the owners listed in the ownership proof.

For the rental of HDB flats, take note that the property agent can only accept direct payment to them if the payment is for commission or stamp duty fees. The CEA website talks more about the handling of transaction monies.


In the earlier cases, the victims told me the scammers responded to their “property wanted” adverts.

A tenant who contacted me 2 days ago, told me he was responding to rental adverts on Carousell Singapore. I decided to go to Carousell Singapore to take a look.

In less than a minute of searching, I found two listings that I was confident were scam listings.

The tell-tale signs of scam rental listings
The tell-tale signs of scam rental listings

These are the tell-tale signs of fake property listings put up by scammers:

  • The listing has beautiful or very presentable pictures of the unit.
  • The listing is priced below the market rate.
  • The advertiser has no ratings yet.
  • The advertiser will switch the mode of communication to WhatsApp once you’ve sent a chat message.
  • The advertiser is using a newly created account.

I have already highlighted the fake listings and shared my findings with Carousell Singapore.

I don’t know how many fake listings I would find if I spent my day combing through Carousell.

But I’m feeling concerned.

Carousell Singapore is only one of the so many property websites out there. They have a team that goes after fake listings.

But is there anyone policing the other property websites?

If you have doubts about a rental transaction, please feel free to contact me for a second opinion.

Contact Jack Sheo


Are you wondering what to do in today’s market?

Perhaps you already have a clear mind of what you want to do?

In my blog, I often share stories of the challenges, triumphs, and lessons learned in my work as a real estate agent in Singapore.

Regardless of your situation, you can use me as a sounding board. I’ll provide perspective and clarity from my experience.

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