S’pore Property Agent Uses Client’s Money Worth $132,000 To Renovate Own Home, Gets 2 Years’ Jail

Singapore Property Agent Used Client’s Money To Renovate His Own Home, Pleads Guilty

Family-recommended contacts are usually reliable, but unfortunately, this Australian woman ended up with a dishonest one.

Her relative recommended her a property agent whose home renovations she ended up sponsoring.

Turns out, he had misappropriated $132,000 she paid him for the property she wanted to purchase, using most of it to make over his own home.

Here’s how the embezzlement unfolded.

Victim’s relative recommended Lim as property agent of choice

In 2015, the victim wanted to invest in Singapore’s property market.

According to Channel NewsAsia (CNA) on 29 Jan, she was introduced to Lim via a relative and engaged him as her property agent.

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They viewed a few units, and she settled on a condominium unit. She signed an option to purchase it for $765,558 on 9 Jun 2015.

Fees were transferred into property agent’s bank account

As a property agent with Huttons Asia, CNA reported that Lim had permission to collect payment on behalf of the company.

The payment he collected was to be made out in cheques to the company. He was to hand the cheques over to his firm immediately after receiving them.

Unfortunately, that was not the case for the victim.

Instead of cheques, the funds were transferred directly into Lim’s personal bank account.

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From Jul 2015 to Feb 2016, a total of $327,430.60 was transferred to him, reported CNA.

The sum was transferred over 13 transactions, with the amount transferred ranging from $3,200-$55,000. They were thought to be payment for:

  • Partial stamp fees
  • Conveyancing fees
  • Balances of the purchase price.

Property agent made over his home with remaining money

After receiving the money, Lim issued cheques amounting to $194,000 to the developer of the condominium as well as a law firm.

Image result for renovationImage for illustration purposes only

As for the remaining $132,000, he used it for personal purchases — $82,945 was spent on home renovations, while the rest was spent on furniture and air-conditioners.

Developer forfeited the property

Having spent a large sum of the victim’s money, Lim couldn’t make certain payments to the developer of the condominium.

In the end, the developer had to forfeit the property, as well as the $153,000 the victim had already paid. To add salt to the wound, they also charged her a penalty for late payment amounting to $4,179.

Upon realising the reality of the situation, the victim then proceeded to lodge a police report in Aug 2018, accusing Lim of misappropriating the fees she paid him.

Property agent regrets his actions

On 29 Jan, property agent Lim Yi Han pleaded guilty for his crimes and was sentenced to 2 years’ jail.

He was charged for “criminal breach of trust as an agent by dishonest misappropriation”.

Lim pleaded guilty, and voluntarily compensated the victim with a sum of $16,552 (AUD $18,000).

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He was unrepresented in court.

The 38-year-old could have been jailed for up to 20 years and fined, but he received a sentence of 2 years’ jail.

He told the prosecutor that he hoped he would be “lenient” as his wife “just had an operation” and “has to take care of two young kids by herself”.

Caution in dealing with large payments

It is yet not clear why the victim transferred the funds to Lim’s bank account instead of issuing cheques.

When dealing with large sums of money, one should always adhere to the advised method of transfer to avoid complications, or even losses such as this.

Huttons Asia has been contacted for comments but they have yet to respond.

Featured image adapted from PropertyGuru.sg. Image used is for illustration purposes only.

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