• Sunday, Jul 05, 2020
  • Last Update : 05:26 pm

Falling victim

  • Published at 12:12 am June 30th, 2020
Falling a victim

There is no denying that some danger is still out there, and any real estate hopeful needs to be fully aware of what they are to protect themselves

Fifteen years ago, Mr Abir decided that the time was right to secure his and his family’s future. So, he began to look for an apartment in Dhaka. Unbeknownst to him, he was venturing into a world that was indeed full of possibilities but also full of scammers, cheaters and frauds who lurk in the shadows and wait for unsuspecting prey. Lucky for him and thanks to his eye for details as well as cautious nature, he was able to find the perfect home he wanted, and even after all these years, he and his future generations are enjoying the fruit of that investment.

But unlike Mr Abir, a lot of hopeful home buyers, unfortunately, have fallen victim to fraud over the years and the infamy and notoriety of the real estate sector had grown.For a long time, people perceived the housing industry with scepticism and distrust.While the industry has worked hard, and certainly made significant progress, to expel deceitful elements and bring people’s faith back upon property investment, some dubious characters still linger on. There are still incidents of cheating occurring from time to time. Whether it is due to over-reliance on shady middlemen or deceitful sellers and developers, some real estate hopefuls get cheated, in one way or another.

Perhaps the most common form of scam, even today, is the one where a“trusted associate” takes advantage of the naiveté of the buyer,or sometimes even the seller,by siphoning money through various ruses and excuses such as document auditing charges, finder’s fees and paper filing charges, shady middlemen or “local brokers” scam money.This is most common outside capital Dhaka where real estate dealing methods are still a decade or so behind, which is unfortunate since in this age of technology when doing a bit of background check is simple enough, people are making the mistake of trusting unauthorized and unreliable sources.

Another big scam in real estate is when a property is seemingly “sold” to multiple people or several times. This is most common for secondary properties that are placed under the care of someone other than the owner.Con artists sell a particular property to an unsuspecting buyer for a sum amount and begin receiving money from them all the while they delay transferring the deed of the property under various pretences. Sometimes the buyer even pays the full amount without receiving the proper documentation. Meanwhile, the fraudster takes advantage of the opportunity and sells off the already sold property to someone else showing the same deed and takes off with the money of both buyers.

A variation of this scam uses forged papers to deceit a buyer into thinking they are genuinely buying a property with proper documentation only for it to later reveal that the property was sold off without the authority of the original owner.In such cases, it can take months or even years for the unsuspecting buyer to realize that they had fallen prey to a con, only when the authority or the original owner comes knocking at the door — as was the case for Mr Rahman who thought his sister, who bought it from a friend, passed down her flat in Dhanmondi before leaving the country.

While Mr Rahman had the chance to forge some precious memories in his Dhanmondi home, sometimes the buyer gets ripped off even before they have a chance move in.One of the most notorious cases of embezzlement and misappropriation of depositor money occurred during the tail-end of the 2000s when Jubo Karmasangsthan Society (JUBOK)conned 350,000 people.People such as Mr Hossain who deposited Tk30 lakh to JUBOK for a plot never got the chance to step foot onto the land they thought they had bought. And as recent as February of this year, there is still no resolution for the people who were cheated.

Even though the occurrence of such an extreme level is rare, people sometimes fall victim to loan defaulter scams without knowing.In this type of scam, the seller or developer secretly takes out a massive loan against the property before transferring the possession to the buyer(s) and then defaults on the loan. Due to defaulting, the bank or the financial institution would have to file a case against the seller under the ArthaRinAdalat Ain 2003 (Money Loan Court Act of 2003), which prevents the buyer from registering the property under their own name. Meanwhile, the scammer flees away with both the loaned amount and the money from the buyer, leaving behind the buyer with all the liability.

Another common problem, although some would argue whether it falls under “scam” or not, is when developers take massive amounts of deposits from the buyers as down payments for their projects and after a while, they declare bankruptcy and do not or cannot finish the project in question. As a result, the hopes and dreams of the buyers fall into a state of limbo — unable to move forward, unable to go back.

In times of crisis such as the one we are in now, people are more vulnerable to scams and fraud. Even though there are many forms of real estate scams, the chances of actually stumbling onto one are few and far between today — less so for actually falling victim to it. People are more vigilant today. They have access to greater knowledge and information which can be used to avert such mishaps.

Furthermore, there are also property solutions providers such as Bproperty who assist with complex matters of real estate, along with other property requirements, so that investors do not instead become victims. The reward in real estate is immense, which is why people invest in it.However, there is no denying that some danger is still out there, and any real estate hopeful needs to be fully aware of what they are to protect themselves.

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