The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) wishes to alert the general public to the activities of unscrupulous estate developers in the Federal Capital Territory, who are in the habit of defrauding aspiring home owners through bogus offers.
A Statement by the Head, Media & Publicity Unit of the anti-graft agency, Wilson Uwajuren, noted that “in recent weeks the Commission has recorded an upsurge in the number of reported cases of individuals, mostly low and middle income earners , who have been swindled after they responded to advertisement for subscription to own properties in many of the estates being promoted by unscrupulous developers in the FCT.
“Usually, the so called developers, once they are able to secure land allocation from the FCDA, create gorgeous computer-assisted designs of prototype estate and launch aggressive media blitzs for prospective home owners to subscribe for different categories of houses at attractive prices.
“They target low and middle income earners who cannot afford outright cash purchase of property in the burgeoning capital city. For this category of citizens, such offers are irresistible as they present immediate escape from the burden of prohibitive yearly rent payments”.
It added that fraudsters “embrace such schemes with the hope that the payment spread over many years will provide the cushion to do other things.
“But no sooner than they pay the initial deposits, they are inundated with various excuses as explanation for the developers’ inability to deliver the properties. Some have waited for many years hoping against hope for their promised houses to be delivered. While the hapless prospective home owners rue their plight, the so-called developers disappear completely from the radar to enjoy their loot”, the statement said, noting that “those who do not disappear continue to make promises that are never redeemed. The more ruthless amongst them are prepared to wear out the scammed subscribers through tedious litigation, fully aware that many of the low income persons lack the resources to sustain legal actions over a long time”.
Mr Uwajuren further added that “the subscribers who brave the courts and secure legal respite, discover to their chagrin that recovering their money is near impossible. Often, the title to such properties would have long been mortgaged as collateral for loan facilities from some financial institutions by the developers”.
He warned that “it is important that stakeholders in the real estate sector, as well as the regulatory agencies such as the Nigerian Society of Estate Surveyors and Valuers come together to review and firm up the regulatory framework for property development in the FCT to check the activities of unscrupulous private developers.
“It is also imperative for intending home owners to ascertain the credibility and capacity of developers before subscribing to their offers”.
Mr Uwajuren further said the FCDA has a role to play in checkmating the housing and land scams “by ensuring that developers requesting land for mass housing have the capacity to deliver the houses”.
He also assured Nigerians the “EFCC will on its part continue the aggressive investigation and prosecution of all land-related cases in the FCT.