The Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia (BOVAEA) is concerned that the number of cases involving illegal real estate brokers will increase if the problem is not addressed soon.To curb the problem, the board will be working with the relevant government agencies in order to trace and bring these criminals to justice. In a statement, BOVAEA revealed around 50,000 illegal real estate brokers are duping innocent Malaysians into parting with their hard earned money.To earn quick cash, these unscrupulous characters impersonate developers’ representatives, property investors, unregistered salespersons, community leaders, foreigners and even housewives.Last week, a certified negotiator discovered his photograph was printed on name cards under different companies which were being distributed to unsuspecting shop lot owners, who were duped into paying the necessary sales and rental deposits. “We are afraid the number of cases will increase with desperate property owners trying to cope with the slowdown in the property market,” said BOVAEA Estate Agency Practice Committee (EAPC) Chairman Eric Lim Chin Heng. Lim said they were shocked at property owners’ apathy on determining the authenticity of the people representing them. BOVAEA underscored that estate agency practice is regulated by law.“ Anyone who is not a registered estate agent or is not a certified real estate negotiator is breaking the law. More importantly anyone using the services of anyone who claim to be agents without the authority to practice is not protected by law,” he explained. To avoid being at the losing end, Lim urges potential property sellers and buyers to check the tags instead of relying on the name cards alone.“ There is a Quick Response (QR) code on each tag so customers can scan the code with their smartphones to find out the background of the agent, the firm they represent, their REN No and their identity.” Under the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act, those caught abetting an illegal agent can also be fined RM300,000 or face three years imprisonment or both, said Lim.