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Johor uncovers affordable housing scam

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JOHOR BARU — The state government has uncovered nine cases in a scam involving Johor Affordable Homes (RMMJ) where low-income earners were duped into parting with thousands of ringgit after being issued fake acceptance letters.

Police are understood to have identified an individual previously working with a developer as behind the scam, and believe more people may have been cheated.

The scam was discovered by the state secretary’s office following a complaint by a victim late last month.

Housing and rural development committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad said the office lodged a police report on June 28.

“We were notified about this after a victim came come to the state secretary’s office to inquire on the status of his RMMJ unit,” Dzulkefly told reporters after a visit to the Johor Risda office in Bandar Baru Uda yesterday.

He said the state government’s housing unit found the letter issued to the victim was faked.

“When we inspected the document, we found it was not the same as the ones issued to those who qualify for RMMJ homes,” he said.

Dzulkefly, who is also the Kota Iskandar assemblyman, said the state government issues a certificate to those eligible but the victim had a letter instead.

The file number was for a lot that had been awarded to someone else.

“So far, we have discovered nine cases in relation to the RMMJ project located at Setia Business Park II, near Bandar Dato Onn,” he said.

Initial investigations revealed each victim had forked out RM5,000 as “booking fee” for a unit, but Dzulkefly said the state government has never asked for any initial payment for RMMJ homes.

An internal investigation found that no state civil servants were involved in the scam.

However, a source familiar with the case said police have identified a male suspect, believed to be in his 30s, previously working for a major nationwide residential township developer.

The suspect has been suspended from work by his employer.

The source said the scam was believed to be widespread in Johor Baru after the suspect befriended potential victims who had shown interest in the affordable homes programme for the bumiputra quota.

“The suspect, who understands the local residential market because of his job, acts in a professional manner and has managed to convince several people, including civil servants, who are keen on home ownership,” the source told Malay Mail.

“His modus operandi is to meet his potential victims at the residential area in the Bandar Datuk Onn area for them to ‘view’ the homes.”

The potential victims were also given a “choice” of homes, from entry-level single-storey to double-storey linked, and asked to to pay up R5,000 as “booking fee”.

Johor police chief Datuk Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd said police have initiated an investigation into the case.