By Joseph Wong
It is unfortunately not unusual for unscrupulous individuals and groups to take advantage of situations like the current Covid-19 outbreak to cheat or steal from people who are already living in fear.
This includes the lesser fake face masks scam, which has tricked many unsuspecting buyers, to more dangerous ones like robberies. Here are a few that have already happened.
Bogus virus cleaning
These scammers are knocking on doors to talk to people about Covid-19. They offer to test people for the virus and to clean their homes of the deadly virus because their neighbours had contracted the virus. In reality, these scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus in an attempt to rob homes.
While this happened in the US, it doesn’t mean that other unscrupulous individuals will not import this idea to our shores.
Too good to be true
For buyers who have come across a deal that’s too good to be true, be extra cautious. While these are desperate times where a stressed-out property industry is additionally hammered the Covid-19 outbreak, such sweet deals may be just lures.
It also works similarly for sellers who are offered a much better deal given the current scenario. Either way, the idea is to get either the buyer or seller to open their doors.
Unregister real estate negotiators
The Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) has warned the public to be cautious in buying and selling properties during the movement control order (MCO) period to avoid falling prey to scams.
With the majority of Malaysians who are keen to buy or sell property relying on online platforms, the body has advised them to go through registered estate agents and negotiators to avoid potential scams.
There are still a high number of cases where the general public has fallen prey to these property pitfalls.
While the government has advised against online accommodation providers like Airbnb from operating for the time being, it has been reported that some robbers have taken advantage of such portals to gain entry into residential premises. This is after all the best time for robbers knowing that many people will have spare cash in hand to tie them over the MCO period.
Room? What room?
On the other side of the pendulum, some travellers who are unfortunate enough to be caught during the MCO and unable to return home are desperate for accommodation. The best way is still to go through the proper channels but some in their bid to reduce their spending, opt for less trusted online sites. There are cases where such scammers sold holidaymakers several nights worth of stay at unbelievably discounted rates but only to find out that there is no accommodation for them when they arrive.