WHEN hiring a contractor to carry out renovations or repairs, the last person anyone wants to encounter is a scammer posing as a legitimate businessman.
Indeed, encountering such a scammer would be a nightmare for a homeowner given that renovations or repairs can often run into tens of thousands of ringgit.
Recently, it was claimed that a man had been posing as a contractor to scam people in Rawang.
Is there any truth to this?
MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong highlighted the issue at a press conference on Thursday (Dec 7), saying that five Rawang homeowners found themselves with damaged homes and lost money after they were tricked by a fake contractor.
He said the victims had been attracted to several banners promoting the contractor's company in and around Kundang Jaya in Rawang.
They then either met with or contacted the person in charge and agreed to hire the company after being given a tour of what was purportedly the company's ongoing and completed projects in the area.
“After giving them a quotation, he told each of the victims to pay 40% up front to get the renovation permit for their homes from the local council,” said Chong.
He added that the victims were told that the money would also be used to pay for the building materials.
“However, after (payment was made), some of the projects were never carried out while others were left only partially complete as work stopped after a few walls were torn down,” he said.
Chong added that the workers who showed up were foreign labourers claiming that they had not been paid by the contractor.
He then said these workers demanded that the victims pay them for the work to continue.
Chong added that the victims told him the contractor did not supply the promised construction materials, resulting in a complete halt to any renovation works.
They also said the person they had been dealing with became uncontactable as of Friday (Dec 1) and attempts to trace him were unsuccessful as the “office address” stated on the invoices led to a local restaurant.
At the press conference, a victim who gave his name only as Vincent said he had paid over RM17,800 to the contractor, who kept giving excuses to avoid meeting him.
“It was only after my kitchen and bathroom walls were torn down that the workers started demanding money for their pay and to buy materials to finish the renovation,” he said.
Vincent added that when he then tried to contact the contractor, he was told that the person was ill and warded at Hospital Serdang.
“But after Dec 1, any calls I made went immediately to voicemail. When I checked with the hospital, there was no record of him there,” he said.
Other victims revealed that they had suffered similar fates with one, Che Wan, saying that she had paid over RM57,600.
“The renovation progress began smoothly at first after I appointed him in September.
“The work was about 70% complete by Dec 2 when the workers refused to work as they told me they had not received payment from the contractor," she said.
Two other victims, Zahirah and Yap, said they lost RM18,000 and RM13,000 respectively to the same contractor.
Meanwhile, a victim who gave his name as Zahir said no work was done even after he paid a total of RM21,400 from Nov 27 to Dec 1.
The victims have since lodged police reports against the contractor, according to Chong.
“We believe there are many more victims in this case and we want... all of them to make police reports as soon as possible.
“(The people) are reminded to do research on companies or individuals before entering into any contracts, especially when it comes to large sums of money as in these cases,” he added.