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Housing Minister Pennelope Beckles, second from left, with Ministry and HDC officials during a tour of the Real Spring housing development in Valsayn on Tuesday.

Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Penelope Beckles has confirmed a probe is underway to determine if any member of staff at the Housing Development Corporation was involved in any of the recent housing scams.

“Since I have become minister, I have received a lot of complaints,” she revealed, “and the most painful thing for me is that many of the complaints come from single mothers—people who have worked so hard and sacrificed, and borrowed this money.”

Speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew, the minister said to date, persons fleeced by the scammers have been promised a site visit to their prospective houses which caused them to trust the fraudsters.

She said many victims have been directed to pay down-payment money to everywhere else but the HDC, including at a special website or to a special bank account, all of which should set off warning bells.

“The only person you should be paying your money to is directly to the HDC and not anyone who calls you on the phone on a Saturday or a Sunday morning.”

As to whether the sophistication of the housing scams is a clue that actual HDC staffers may be involved, Minister Beckles said, “I cannot say with any measure of conviction that there are people from within the HDC who are doing it. I cannot say that, because we are doing our investigations.”

Minister Beckles also addressed the issue of the lottery system employed to allocate housing units. She admits to being dissatisfied with it and expresses a desire to see it changed.

“While the intention may be to ensure justice exists in the housing sector, in some cases it could very well end up being a system where people would say that it causes injustice,” the Minister said.

“As I understand it, part of the reason for that procedure is that people felt the need for a fair and just system of allocation,” she noted.

“My concern is how to balance everything out for those who have been waiting for decades in the system, against those who have only recently been entered into it.”