A 24 year old Malaysian was charged in court yeseterday (6th May) for posing as HDB officers to cheat elderly into giving him cash for repair works. Lee Zhen Ning came into Singapore on a visitor visa and his modus operandi is to pretend to be a HDB officer and con people in different HDB precincts to give him deposits for HDB repair works.

All of his three victims were elderly aged from 62 to 80 years old, who gave him differing amount from $20 to $300 as deposits.

Photo from HDB
Photo from HDB

Deputy Public Prosecutor Eunice Lim claimed that Lee Zhen Ning is a member of a Singapore-Malaysia cheating syndicate, but did not mention which organization he is with. Lee Zhen Ning face a maximum 10 years jail term and fines if convicted.

Many elderly in Singapore are very trusting of the government authority and they live in an era where government officials can act without official documents, which makes them easy targets for cheats today. Just last month this year, the Parliament passed a new law allowing HDB officers to enter HDB flats for urgent repairs. The Ministry of State for National Development Desmond Lee claimed that this act is necessary because some HDB owners “endanger themselves and their neighbour because of ignorance or carelessness” and intervention from the HDB is required. The government claimed that HDB will use the power “sparingly” and only as “a last resort”.

With the increase in HDB powers, it is likely to have more cheating cases happening in the heartland. However, homeowners living in condominiums and private properties are excluded from the new law that allows a government official to enter a flat without a warrant.

Do you think there will be lesser cheating cases if the HDB is not granted such powers?