JOHOR BARU: Some of those cheated in the state’s affordable housing scheme paid the scammers cash and did not even get an official receipt after paying thousands of ringgit for a house.
Johor Housing and Rural Development Committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad said many of the victims were also reluctant to lodge reports as they felt embarrassed.
“They know they have been duped as nobody hands over money for a house without getting a receipt or signing some sort of document,” he said.
He added that the state housing secretariat would also set up a special hotline or WhatsApp group for the vicitms to provide them with their reports and complaints.
Dzulkefly urged victims to lodge police reports to enable them to know the extent of the scam and to come up with tighter procedures for such housing schemes.
He added that they would also work with the police to track down the scammers.
Gamuda Land, in a statement, said that they would like to notify the public that Horizon Hills was not involved in the case and that they have not put up any offers of such homes for sale.
The Star had earlier reported that dozens of people, who wanted to own homes under Rumah Mampu Milik Johor or RMMJ scheme had their hopes dashed after being duped in a scam.
Instead of securing homes in Bandar Dato Onn in Tebrau or another project in Iskandar Puteri, the victims lost up to RM13,000 each.The scam, said to be the biggest so far involving RMMJ houses, has made more than 70 people poorer.
Many of them have lodged police reports and have complained to the Johor Housing Secretariat.
All the victims handed their money to “middlemen” who promised to deliver the houses late last year.
However, the conmen, comprising a gang of more than 10 people, have either disappeared or have given excuses for delays in the projects.
Dzulkefly reiterated that the state government does not appoint agents or brokers to handle their affordable housing schemes.
“Just register online and submit your applications for free,” he added.
The Star’s report had also caught the attention of Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar who advised Johoreans to be wary of scammers promising to help them secure affordable homes.
His Majesty wants stern action taken against perpetrators to prevent more people from falling victim to their false promises.
“It is sad to hear of these cases because the rakyat have been told time and again that there are only online applications and no third parties involved.
“What makes me even sadder is that these heartless conmen are taking advantage of people in the lower income segment who may have spent their savings in the hope of securing a home,” His Majesty said via his official Facebook page.
Citing the Rumah Impian Bangsa Johor (RIBJ) project as an example, Sultan Ibrahim said the process was straightforward and transparent.
“With RIBJ, the applications are done online, which are then vetted by the Sultan Ibrahim Johor Foundation and eligible applicants are informed as soon as possible.
“Please be careful and don’t trust anybody who promises you an affordable home,” said His Majesty.