Police warn public after two cases of real-estate fraud

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, May 17, 2018 - Page 3

Law enforcement authorities on Tuesday warned the public against real-estate fraud following two complaints in New Taipei City and Taoyuan.

A New Taipei City man surnamed Chuang (莊) filed a complaint about a real-estate agent who allegedly cheated him out of tens of millions of New Taiwan dollars during a housing transaction.

Chang in January put his house in the city’s Sanchong District (三重) up for sale for NT$22 million (US$735,983 at the current exchange rate), and was contacted by a man surnamed Chiu (邱), he said.

After looking at the house twice, Chiu told Chuang that he was satisfied with it, and they settled on a price of NT$20.1 million.

Chiu then hired a real-estate agent surnamed Shen (沈) to handle the details, Chuang said.

However, when finalizing the agreement, Chiu asked to have a family member sign in his stead, saying he had outstanding loans and would have difficulty in obtaining the mortgage.

“Although I was not sure about it, Shen told me that it was quite normal and would not affect the seller,” Chuang said. “After more talks with Shen, and with the buyer producing a check as a guarantee, I eventually signed the agreement.”

The deal proceeded with no problems at first. Chuang was paid NT$100,000 in cash and wired NT$2 million the next day, and another NT$2 million the following day, he said.

“So I handed over the title deed to the house, along with my personal chop to Shen for him to finalize the transaction, thinking everything was going fine,” Chuang said.

However, last month the final portion of the payment, NT$16 million, did not materialize, he said.

Chuang said he checked with the real-estate company and found that Chiu had taken the title deed to a private financing company as collateral to take out an NT$18 million loan.

After failing to locate Chiu, Chuang and his lawyer filed a complaint with the police, he said.

Chuang said he was surprised to find that Shen had also disappeared from his office in Taipei, and police background checks revealed that Shen had been involved in similar disputes with several people.

In another case, a Taoyuan woman surnamed Chen (陳) said she was cheated out of NT$30,000 by a man who claimed to be a landlord.

Chen said she was looking for an apartment to rent and found an advertisement on a housing rental Web site by a man surnamed Chang (張)

He produced the keys so that she could look at the apartment.

After agreeing to rent it, Chen said she was asked by Chang to pay the monthly rent of NT$10,000 and two months’ deposit up front, adding that Chang did not sign a rental agreement.

Chen later went to the apartment to prepare for her move and found another man there who said he was the real landlord.

After checking police records, Chen found that Chang was a tenant who had copied several keys from homes he had stayed at and had cheated at least three other people with a similar scam.