Property fraud still a major issue in Gurugram
In the 2010s decade, Gurugram’s glitzy real estate sector helped many investors fill their coffers. But in the last two-three years of the decade, thousands of apartment buyers and investors fell prey to property frauds. The frauds include delay in delivery of realty projects, diversion of funds allotted for projects, sale of projects in which licences have not been procured and change in the specification of flats at the time of delivery, among others.
Police records show that the number of cases has been consistently increasing since 2010, when the department registered 130 cases. This year, the police have registered 514 such cases. Though the 2019’s figure is less than that of the previous year when 639 cases of property fraud were registered, the police said that it is mainly due to the crackdown on erring realtors.
However, police officials said that the 2019’s figure of over 500 property fraud cases is significant, keeping in mind the fact that not a single realty project was launched this year.
In one of the major actions against real estate frauds this year, the police registered cases against 14 developers, six tehshildars, five registry clerks and four computer operators of Manesar revenue office for alleged irregularities in executing sale deeds of properties between 2009 and 2012. The accused allegedly manipulated revenue records to reduce the stamp duty and caused a loss of ₹5 crore to the state exchequer. The case was registered on the direction of a local court.
Gurugram police commissioner Muhammad Akil said that this is a serious offence and a designated team of economic offences wing (EOW) is investigating the matter.
According to the police, the modus operandi in most fraud cases is that fraudsters sell projects that don’t have licences as the intention is to cheat investors. Many developers promised buyers of high returns, but later refused to keep their promise.
“We receive several complaints of property fraud. In most of the cases we immediately take action. In case of technical issues, we send the case to EOW for investigation. One of the reasons behind the spurt in cases against realtors was the implementation of the Haryana Protection of Investors Act 2014. The act allows the police to confiscate property acquired illegally by different stakeholders of the real estate market,” said Akil.
Akil also said on many occasions, fraudsters attempt to acquire ownership of a property either by using a forged document or by impersonating the registered owner. “It is only after paying substantial instalments that the victims realise that they are being cheated. Fifty-eight cases were registered in Gurugram last year where buyers signed agreements when builders bought the land,” he said.
Experts say the economic slowdown is likely to increase the number of fraud cases. “There are a large number of buyers in Gurugram who face trouble in the absence of proper regulation and checks by the government,” said Sanjay Sharma, city-based real estate consultant.
For the last five years, not only small brokers but some major builders too have been booked for violating promises made to buyers and contract agreements. The police have registered cases against some major builders in the city.
In the last one year, the police have also taken action against several brokers, chit fund operators, and developers under the investors’ protection act. Despite the act in place, officials suggest that buyers should be careful while investing in realty projects. The buyers should also stay away from financial products that are marketed in the garb of real estate offerings, the police said.
Sometimes, buyers face a different problem related to the property sector. “It seems atrocities by money lenders are back to haunt us in 2019. Even after fully repaying a home loan, a government bank hasn’t returned the original property documents which had been taken by them as security for the loan. A complaint was lodged with the police in June 2019 against the chairman of the bank, but nothing has moved on it,” said Suparno Satpathy, a resident of Sector 56.