When her interior designer disappeared midway while renovating her four-room Jurong resale flat, homeowner Afiqah said she felt helpless.
She reckoned that her renovations are only about 10 per cent complete now.
"Wiring, plumbing, etc not done. Only tiling halfway done," she complained on Instagram last Tuesday (May 16).
But after getting into contact with a few other homeowners including Wong Noorina May, the 28-year-old soon realised that she wasn't the only one left hanging by the same man.
In fact, to date, there are 12 other victims just like her, she said. Some of them reached out to her after coming across her Instagram post.
Afiqah said she engaged the interior designer on Jan 8. This interior designer is her property agent's husband, she told AsiaOne in an interview.
"We engaged her around November 2022. She mentioned that her husband is an interior designer.
"We are friendly with our agent so sometimes she will bring [her husband] along for our house hunting. He would give inputs on how he would design the house," shared Afiqah.
So, after purchasing her resale flat, she thought it just made sense for him to help her with the renovations.
Afiqah said she was quoted $68,000 for the renovations and had to pay a 30 per cent deposit, followed by a 40 per cent amount for items including kitchen accessories and air-con units.
"He [said he] needs to pay the vendor first, which is why the beginning payment [was] so high," explained Afiqah.
So, in total, she said she paid him some $48,221 in January, which is about 70 per cent of the full amount.
Missing persons report made
During the renovation period — which started in mid-April and was supposed to end by July — Afiqah said she made frequent visits to the unit to check on the renovation progress at least twice a week.
She thought everything was going smoothly until her property agent, the wife of the contractor, called her in early May.
"Actually, we did not notice anything amiss with our renovations until his wife called us on May 6 saying that [he] has not been contactable since May 2 and she has made a missing person's report on May 4," Afiqah told AsiaOne.
To confirm this, she checked the interior designer's socials and was horrified to find that the company's TikTok account and Facebook have been deleted.
In the meantime, she said she is living with her parents and there are a total of six people, including herself, housed under one roof.
And soon, there will be seven because her sister is giving birth soon.
Afiqah said she has since made a police report. In response to AsiaOne's queries, the police confirmed a report was lodged and investigations are ongoing.
AsiaOne has also tried calling the interior designer's number and found that it is no longer in use.
Not the only victim
To date, a total of 12 victims have reached out to Afiqah to share their stories, she said, adding that some have been owed money since five years ago.
One of them is Wong, who spoke with AsiaOne on May 17.
She was supposed to move in with her family this month and paid $45,000 out of the $55,000 quoted price for the renovations.
As of now, only 10 to 20 per cent of the renovation works have been completed, she said.
Apart from incomplete paint jobs and issues with the wiring, the ceiling fans and air-con units from the previous owners, which were still in good condition, had allegedly been stolen by the contractors.
Currently, she and her family are looking for an interior designer to help complete their renovations and they are living in between houses with family and relatives.
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