The Consumer Council of Fiji is strongly alerting the public to be aware of scammers while purchasing or dealing with housing online.
This comes as the Consumer Council of Fiji has received over 12 complaints this year alone, valued at over $370,000.
An elderly couple who lost over $350,000 in a housing scam also shared their grievances.
64-year-old Lata Wati says an advertisement on social media in 2019 led her to invest money in a property that was never going to be hers.
“I saw the advertisement in July and started our payment in August. In 2020, we felt something was fishy, so we had to do a bit of running around to find out. And when we went to Amrit, who is our lawyer, he told us that he knew this lady, and she is a scammer, and she has done similar scams with other people.”
Wati says her matter is currently handled by the Consumer Council and the Criminal Investigations Department.
Council Chief Executive Seema Shandil says they are currently working with relevant authorities to obtain redress for victims of such scams.
“Just a few cases have been brought to our attention, and there may be so many out there who are already affected but may be wary of coming forward and lodging their complaints with the Consumer Council of Fiji, or there may be some who must have lodged complaints with other enforcement agencies, and this is a major concern for us.”
Shandil is urging the public to do thorough background research when dealing with online traders.
The Council is now increasing its social media alerts and releasing the names of scammers online to further caution consumers.