Police are investigating yet another scam involving the promise of Housing Development Corporation (HDC) homes, in which a woman lost $80,000.
According to the Fraud Squad, a total of 14 people were victims of HDC scams this year.
The woman, who spoke to Guardian Media yesterday, said the payments were made during a 12-month period. She was told that she would receive her unit after the general elections.
“Everybody was packing and waiting on this. Even when he called with the last set of money and said, ‘Yes when you pay tomorrow you getting through’, everybody was excited and then that was it,” the victim said.
After the last payment in October, which was made via money she had borrowed, the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she lost contact with the scammers.
But purchasing a house was not her intention when she first called a number on an ad in the newspaper. The ad was for a herbalist that goes by the name ‘Mr James’, but she said after their first interaction, the man and his team kept in contact.
“During conversation, they asked where you live and then they said if you ever applied for HDC. They befriended you,” she said.
The woman said she trusted them because of their faith but also because of the legitimacy of their information.
“They made a three-way call and the person from ‘HDC’ started to talk via phone and these people have information inside links in HDC. They have your name, information when you applied, your children all the names,” she said.
During one of the payments, the woman recorded her interaction with a man claiming to be an engineer with HDC. He came to collect one of her payments on behalf of ‘Mr James’.
“If they going and call elections they will start to give out. Once this done go through you just getting the call and move into your house you know you ain’t have to wait for nothing where they calling you on TV,” the man said in the video.
There was another video where the victim was seen paying the same man money for the unit.
“They meet you in certain locations,” she said.
The woman believes anyone could have fallen for the scam but as time went by, she became sceptical and went into the HDC. There she learnt that her name was nowhere on a list to receive a unit anytime soon and that her file was not updated.
The man claiming to be ‘Mr James’ was not happy with her inquisitiveness. During a phone conversation which she recorded, he told her she almost disrupted the entire operation.
“I have to deal with you eh, I have to talk to you,” he said.
“This have nothing to do with who in the front desk, who back desk, what is concern is what going on upstairs. If the file change it will be in a certain drawer,” the recording said.
After losing her life’s savings she had one message for ‘Mr James’.
“I would say to him he knows God more than he thinks I do so all the best to him,” she said.
Statistics sent to Guardian Media in November from the Fraud Squad revealed that the scammers were able to defraud 14 people of $358,950. It showed that one person was charged and two people were refunded.
The Fraud Squad was unable to say whether anyone in HDC was involved in these crimes.