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Property agents, lawyer among 10 to be charged in S$11.4m housing loan cashback scam

[SINGAPORE] Ten people will be charged in court on Tuesday for their alleged involvement in a housing loan cashback scam that tricked a bank into giving three mortgage loans totalling about S$8.5 million, the police said in a statement on Monday.

They also tried to cheat the bank a fourth time for a S$2.9 million loan when the bank noticed something amiss, the police told The Straits Times on Monday.

The 10 suspects included property sellers, their agents, a conveyancing lawyer and nominee buyers. The scams occurred in 2014 and 2015.

The police said the property sellers and their agents fixed a selling price for a property, but that they then inflated the sale price when applying for a loan with the bank.

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The inflated loans disbursed by the bank that were in excess of the actual sale prices were then distributed to the facilitators of the scam.

In the process, the facilitators also recruited nominee buyers for the transactions and submitted forged income documents in their loan applications.

In their two years of operating the scam, the suspects managed to get three mortgages worth S$8,518,000 approved. They also made a fourth mortgage application of aboutS$2.9 million, bringing the total loan amount to S$11,398,000.

The police said the bank grew wary when one of the nominee buyers defaulted on the loans. Later, the bank sold the three properties at a loss of more than S$2.9 million.

On Tuesday, the three facilitators of the scam will be charged with cheating and forgery offences, with one of them facing seven other charges relating to criminal breach of trust and using a fake stamp certificate.

The two nominee buyers will be charged with cheating.

Two property sellers will be charged with executing a deed of transfer, while the property agents representing two sellers will be charged with conspiring with the sellers to fraudulently execute the deed of transfer.

The facilitators of the scams, nominee buyers, property sellers and agents face jail, or fine, or both, under the Penal Code.

One of the facilitator will also be charged under the Stamp Duties Act for using a counterfeit stamp certificate, an offence that carries a maximum fine of S$10,000 or jail up to three years, or both.

The conveyancing lawyer will be charged with falsely certifying the correctness of an instrument under the Land Titles Act, which carries a maximum fine of S$25,000.