BEWARE: Fake HDB contractors/subcontractors

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the lynx
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BEWARE: Fake HDB contractors/subcontractors

Post by the lynx » Wed, 19 Sep 2012 9:04 am

I would like to warn fellow forum members, especially those living and renting in HDBs to watch out for people posing as HDB contractors/subcontractors.

STORY:
A man showed up at my landlady's unit LAST NIGHT and told her that a unit in neighbouring block had its ceiling collapsed due to rusting of the pipes inside so his job was to inspect every unit if there was such signs and to arrange to fix them.

My landlady (an old lady) let him, he inspected and turned out her master bedroom bathroom showed some signs of cracking around the piping area. So he arranged to have it fixed the next day and quoted $290 (because it was minor) saying that he will be using an anti-rust chemical to prevent the damages from going worse.

He requested for $100 which my landlady paid. Fortunately I just came back that time as he was on his way out and I kept on asking him under whose authority he was as a subcontractor and whether it was by HDB. He evaded the questions and proceeded to the lower level by stairs.

I tried calling HDB to confirm it but the line was not available after office hours so I called EMS, the main contractor listed by HDB. They couldn't verify it so we decided to pursue him.

I took the stairs down the same way he did and caught up with him (and his two accomplices) few floors down. They were about to wrap up and call it a day. I confronted them and they decided to return the money but they wanted to do it in my house.

Instead I told them to do it downstairs in the lobby because my landlady had the receipt and she would be there. Actually she was there with neighbours and police already.

When they saw the police and the crowd, they freaked out and quickly returned the money, insisting that they were just doing legitimate business. The police remained in their patrol car but they did background check and found out that the company was a legitimate business but they cannot arrest them because "technically they did not commit any fraud, unless they don't show up in due appointment."

Anyway let this be a lesson.
If they say they are subcontractors, make them prove themselves. If they can't, don't even open the door. Note down the info (company name, individual's name, NRIC etc) and inform the authorities (since the police can't do much at that level).

I will file an official complaint to HDB and town council soon together with fellow residents who were also affected.

Not sure if it is the best solution but at least the poor old lady got her money back (and her sanity; she was cheated once by the same MO).

Do you think there is any regulatory body that holds the leash on these contractors?

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Post by revhappy » Wed, 19 Sep 2012 10:09 am

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Last edited by revhappy on Sun, 14 Oct 2012 11:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 19 Sep 2012 10:13 am

Unfortunately, this is an ongoing problem for HDB dwellers. The other two or three ruses are the replacement of the rubbish chute door, checking of the window grills, and the air conditioner tray. Always look for the official HDB inspectors ID and also their NRIC to compare the information contained therein. When in doubt, get their phone number and tell them after you confirm their status, you will get back in touch with them. That usually sorts the problem rather quickly.
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Post by nakatago » Wed, 19 Sep 2012 10:35 am

Biggest red flag: asking for money right then and there.

Even if they were official, why would they ask for a significant amount cash for something they just figured out on the spot? What, these guys are counting on the fact that HDB dwellers just have a hundred bucks lying around?! Or that they have a "surprise contractor inspection and repair fund" ready?!

...just angry that these people prey on good-natured folk.
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Re: BEWARE: Fake HDB contractors/subcontractors

Post by x9200 » Wed, 19 Sep 2012 12:29 pm

the lynx wrote:When they saw the police and the crowd, they freaked out and quickly returned the money, insisting that they were just doing legitimate business. The police remained in their patrol car but they did background check and found out that the company was a legitimate business but they cannot arrest them because "technically they did not commit any fraud, unless they don't show up in due appointment."
Even if they showed up, they still committed a fraud if there was no need to get the piping fixed.

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Re: BEWARE: Fake HDB contractors/subcontractors

Post by JayCee » Wed, 19 Sep 2012 12:35 pm

x9200 wrote:
the lynx wrote:When they saw the police and the crowd, they freaked out and quickly returned the money, insisting that they were just doing legitimate business. The police remained in their patrol car but they did background check and found out that the company was a legitimate business but they cannot arrest them because "technically they did not commit any fraud, unless they don't show up in due appointment."
Even if they showed up, they still committed a fraud if there was no need to get the piping fixed.
Have to admit, the longer I stay in Singapore the more I'm starting to agree with OffShoreOilDude's opinion that the Police here do bugger all most of the time. If they're not going to protect an old lady being conned then what's the point of them.

If the police won't report most crimes than no wonder the figures are low, I personally don't feel any safer here than in Malaysia or Thailand, and the people are a hell of a lot friendlier in those places too (realise I've gone off on a bit of a tangent as this wasn't a crime related to 'feeling safe', but I still think it's a valid point)
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Re: BEWARE: Fake HDB contractors/subcontractors

Post by nakatago » Wed, 19 Sep 2012 1:12 pm

JayCee wrote:Have to admit, the longer I stay in Singapore the more I'm starting to agree with OffShoreOilDude's opinion that the Police here do bugger all most of the time. If they're not going to protect an old lady being conned then what's the point of them.
Reprimanding noisy foreigners because someone can't be bothered to walk five paces, knock on a door and ask.
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Post by Mi Amigo » Wed, 19 Sep 2012 1:22 pm

Much respect @ Lynx for pursuing the culprits and getting them to return the money. No doubt they'll be complaining that a Foreign Talent spolied their little scam on this occasion.
Be careful what you wish for

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Post by nakatago » Wed, 19 Sep 2012 1:30 pm

Mi Amigo wrote:Much respect @ Lynx for pursuing the culprits and getting them to return the money. No doubt they'll be complaining that a Foreign Talent spolied their little scam on this occasion.
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Post by the lynx » Wed, 19 Sep 2012 1:45 pm

Mi Amigo wrote:Much respect @ Lynx for pursuing the culprits and getting them to return the money. No doubt they'll be complaining that a Foreign Talent spolied their little scam on this occasion.
Thanks. It wasn't easy. My landlady was a very kind old soul who wouldn't want to go the extra mile to pursue something like this. I had to be firm to her to make her make the decision. After all, it is her money and I'm just trying to help that poor old lady.

And if that man didn't tell me that he went floor to floor by stairs, I wouldn't have been able to find him (and his accomplices) either.

Actually they didn't know that I'm one of those dreaded FTs anyway. :P

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Post by the lynx » Wed, 19 Sep 2012 5:02 pm

I have sent an email to West Coast Town Council, with all the details including of the said "subcontractor". Not sure if it is sufficient. They haven't got back to me but my e-mail won't be the only one they will receive. The neighbours will send in e-mails to them too.

I was wondering if I should highlight to Singapore Contractors Association Ltd as well? Not sure if it is a valid channel to go to.

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Post by Mi Amigo » Wed, 19 Sep 2012 10:17 pm

the lynx wrote:Actually they didn't know that I'm one of those dreaded FTs anyway. :P
Good point. :)
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Post by x9200 » Thu, 20 Sep 2012 8:38 am

the lynx wrote:Actually they didn't know that I'm one of those dreaded FTs anyway. :P
You deprived them of their money and their job so no other choice but FT.

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