Rental Scams

Rental Scams 1

Property Rental and Agent Impersonation Scam

Scammers are putting up fake property listings online and impersonating property agents to scam victims into making payment to secure an appointment to view or rent the property. In Singapore, all property agents must be registered with the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) before they can facilitate property transactions.

Between July 2023 and January 2024, at least 389 victims have fallen prey, with losses amounting to at least $2.4 million.

Do not pay any deposit to view or rent a property without verifying the legitimacy of the property listing.

Find out more about property scams and ways to protect yourself against scams:

How the Rental Scam Works

Infographic on How Rental Scams Work


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How to Stay Safe?



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Checking CEA's Public Register

Step 1Go to CEA's Public Register and key in the phone number of the person you are dealing with, or the phone number advertised.

Key in Phone Number in Public Register

Step 2: If the search does not lead to a property agent's profile page, it means that the phone number is not registered with CEA. It is likely a scam even though the property agent's name and registration number can be found on the CEA Public Register.

How to recognise a scam number through the public register

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Cases of Rental Scams

Since February 2022, rental scams involving impersonation of property agents have emerged in Singapore. 

Scammers would post fake property listings on various advertisement sites and online platforms, and impersonate registered property agents by using their credentials (e.g., CEA registration number, business card, and photos/videos of the property to be leased). 

Victims would initiate a conversation with the scammer through WhatsApp using the contact number listed on the fake listing, who would then pressure the victims to make payment in order to secure the rental property. 

Case 1 - Use of mobile number not registered with CEA


Ms A responded to an online listing for a room rental that had been posted by a scammer impersonating a CEA-registered property agent. The scammer communicated with Ms A through WhatsApp using a Malaysian mobile number, claiming to be based in Malaysia.


Ms A was asked to pay a one-month refundable rental deposit to secure an appointment to view the property. Ms A, sensing that something was amiss and questioning  the need to pay a deposit before viewing, decided to alert CEA about this peculiar practice.


CEA looked into the case and found that the said listing was not posted by the registered property agent and the Malaysian mobile number did not belong the property agent.


CEA quickly informed Ms A not to communicate further with the scammer, preventing her from being scammed. A police report was lodged to highlight the scam listing to Police.

Case 2 - Impersonating and spoofing a CEA-registered property agent


Mr B responded to a scammer’s online listing for an HDB 2-room flat rental.


The scammer, impersonating a CEA-registered property agent, sent Mr B via WhatsApp an image of the agent’s Estate Agents card as “proof” of his identity. He also prepared documents, such as the Letter of Intent, which is a preliminary agreement between two parties before a deal is finalised, for the rental, to add to his legitimacy.


The scammer asked Mr B to pay a 2-month rental deposit and the 1st month’s rental, promising to arrange the viewing and the signing of the tenancy agreement the following day.


Mr B searched for the scammer’s contact number on the CEA Public Register but the search did not yield any results. Mr B then confronted the scammer, who was able to deceive Mr B by spoofing the legitimate property agent’s registered contact number (with “+65”) to call Mr B.


Mr B transferred partial payment to the scammer and decided to call the registered contact number again. When the call was answered by the legitimate property agent, who was unaware of all that had transpired, Mr B realised that he had been scammed and decided to lodge a police report.


Case 3 - Use of Personal Assistant as intermediary


Miss C found an online advertisement for a condominium rental and contacted the advertiser through the phone number listed via WhatsApp. However, she did not know that the advertisement was put up by a scammer impersonating a CEA-registered property agent.

The scammer first informed that the advertised property was not available. He then introduced Miss C to another condominium and arranged for her to view the unit in person with his “personal assistant”.

Miss C agreed to rent the unit. She received the rental agreements over WhatsApp and was asked to pay a rental deposit equivalent to 2 months’ rent to another person whom the scammer claimed was the landlord.

After paying the deposit, she started receiving messages from an unknown person asking for more payment. She suspected that something was wrong and subsequently managed to contact the legitimate CEA-registered property agent through his phone number registered with CEA. 

Miss C then realised that she was being scammed by an impersonator and lodged a police report. 

To avoid rental scams, you should always verify the identity of the property agent by searching the advertised phone number against CEA’s Public Register. You are  advised to view the property with the CEA-registered property agent in person and only make direct payment to the property owner using verifiable payment modes such as crossed cheques and bank transfers. 

Visit the Singapore Police Force website for the latest advisories on rental scams.

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What can you do to Protect Yourself from Scams?

Scamshield Infographic

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