54-year-old property agent, Ramanathan Sujithran, pleaded guilty to 11 charges including multiple counts of cheating, and was sentenced to 4.5 years imprisonment on 22 August.
He had scammed nearly 200 foreigners of $308,815 over a series of rental scams.
Ramanathan was under investigation for a series of rental scams in 2017 and was out on bail when he continued his scams until 2019.
He was a property agent for PropNex Realty before he was fired in 2017 and re-registered as a property agent, but he continued to scam his victim via his own real estate company, TSR Logistics.
He would attract his victims by claiming in advertisements that he had rental units available in Singapore, and when his victims responded to his ads, he would then enter into tenancy agreements with them.
Ramanathan was aware that he was “in no position to satisfy the tenancy agreements that he had entered into and would not be renting out the units” to the victims for the periods listed in his agreements.
However, he went ahead and asked them to pay him a deposit to confirm the rental, and would give them repeated excuses on and around their moving-in date, saying that they were not allowed to move in yet.
he would then cancel the “tenancy agreement” and keep the deposits for himself.
For instance, he listed an advertisement in May 2017 about a unit in Hougang Avenue 7 being available for rent without the homeowner knowing about it.
The homeowner had engaged Ramanathan to rent out his master bedroom only.
The victims, three Indian nationals, responded to the ad and he cheated them of $1,400 each, with all three victims not being able to move into the unit that he advertised.
He used the same modus operandi to cheat other victims, and only about $29,000 was instituted to some of the victims.