Major Interior Design Scam Uncovered and Addressed by Authorities in Singapore

Major Interior Design Scam Uncovered and Addressed by Authorities in Singapore

Choosing the right Singapore interior design company is of paramount importance for getting the quality result you’re hoping for. But this isn’t the only reason why you should do sufficient research before hiring someone and letting them in your home. Over the years, many people have become the victims of Singapore interior design scams. Here’s the latest example of such fraud practices.

The Fraud Scheme That Cost 1.8 Million Dollars

On September 25, 2018, Singaporean media made the announcement of a woman running a renovation scam getting sentenced by the local authorities.

Husniyati Omar, 41, collected 1.8 million dollars from 89 victims while running a home renovation scam. Based on the severity of the charges, Omar was sentenced to over seven years in prison after pleading guilty on 20 charges of cheating and one charge of criminal breach of trust.

In August 2015, shortly after getting released from prison, Omar misappropriated 68,260 dollars from a home renovation company that had decided to hire her. In addition, during the time that she spent at the company, the mother of seven cheated 89 clients and amassed a significant sum via her fraud scheme.

After quitting, Omar and her husband set up their own interior design and renovation company. This way, they lured homeowners with promises of completed projects within strictly defined time periods. The company, however, never honoured these agreements, regardless of the fact that clients were asked to make advance payments.

Clients were attracted via multiple channels. Facebook was used cleverly to promote very attractive and affordable offers via Omar’s company called Carpentry Design Works.

The renovation work wasn’t done (apart from some demolition and hacking work carried out at the homes of the victims). As the project came close to the deadline, worried clients would contact Carpentry Design Works. They would be told that further payment would be required for the execution of the renovation project to continue.

In addition, Omar scammed sub-contractors, promising payment for their work that was never received. One of these sub-contractors alerted the police after a payment for flooring work was never made. This is when the investigation started and the extensive scope of the renovation scam was uncovered.

According to judicial authorities, the sentence Husniyati Omar received was so harsh because large sums of money were involved and the victims didn’t get any compensation. In addition, Omar was on a bail when some of the fraud schemes were carried out. This was considered an additional aggravating factor, reducing the likelihood of leniency during sentencing.

Protecting Yourself from Interior Design Scams

Falling for an interior design scam like the one mentioned above is easy, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with such companies.

It’s never a good idea to accept offers blindly. Instead, dedicate some time to doing research and getting your most important questions answered before the signing of an agreement.

Remember that reputable companies are not going to contact potential clients or go from door to door, offering their services. Interactions typically happen the other way around. Clients have to get in touch with interior design companies and ask for a quote. If you are getting unsolicited contact from so-called renovators, you should be cautious and alert.

Any offer that appears too good to be true is probably a fraud scheme, as well.

This is the precise mechanism that Carpentry Design Works employed. Because extensive home renovation work can be expensive, many clients are attempting to identify budget-friendly alternatives. Looking for a bargain is far from a bad thing. You should, however, have at least some idea about the cost of interior design and renovation work. Expertise, materials, demolition, clean up, etc. should all be accounted for. Even if you get a discount, it would be impossible for the price quote to fall under a certain threshold.

A reputable interior design company is also not going to ask for a large sum in advance. Clients will get a detailed quote that highlights the work, the cost and the payment schedule. The contract is crafted to protect both the home renovation company and the client. Read the entire document from start to finish before signing anything. You should not be asked for an advance deposit that exceeds 20 to 30 per cent of the overall cost. A larger sum raises a red flag.

You can also learn a lot about an interior design company from the former projects it has carried out, its portfolio and from client testimonials.

Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Reputable service providers will be more than happy to cooperate and help you get in touch with their former clients. This way, you can explore the quality of the work and ask key questions about all aspects of the interaction. If you can confirm experience and integrity through the contact with former customers, you can rest assured that the interior design team is capable of delivering exactly what it promises.

Finally, check for licensing and registration. For best results, hire HDB registered renovation contractors. The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has strict criteria for the licensing of professionals in the field. Such certification is a definite sign of quality and adherence to the best industry practices.

The Home Guide team is HDB accredited and we’re also members of CaseTrust and BizSafe. An extensive portfolio exemplifies our ideals and the scope of work that we do. We have partnered up with multiple clients over the past years, executing both large and small interior design projects. Regardless of the scope of renovation work that you need to have done, we can offer personalised and tailored approaches bound to give you the best possible outcome.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today, get your questions answered and learn a bit more about the work that we do.

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