KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: A nursery administrator is RM150,000 poorer and left in a quandary after a contractor discharged himself without completing renovation on her building.
To make things worse, Lo Hee, 50, recently found out that the man, identified only as Choy, had been declared a bankrupt last year.
Speaking to reporters at the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department yesterday, Lo said she hired the man in November last year to renovate her nursery in Bandar Sri Damansara, after meeting him through a mutual acquaintance.
"He told me that I only had to pay him RM120,000 for the job and it would cost a lot more if I hired contractors elsewhere.
"He promised that the renovations would be completed by Feb 6 so I hired him even without signing a proper agreement," said Lo.
She said she paid for his services by banking in money into his wife's bank account, as he requested.
She did not suspect anything amiss until late last month, when Choy started putting off work, citing various reasons.
It was only then that she conducted a background check on Choy and found out that he had been declared a bankrupt last year and did not have a licensed construction company.
Lo also found out through a friend of hers, also a contractor, that the renovation at her corner lot nursery was only about 60 per cent completed and Choy had used substandard materials for the job.
"So far, I have paid him RM148,000 for his services, plus several thousand ringgit more on purchasing construction materials.
"I tried to contact him numerous time since then but only managed to reach him last Friday. All he told me was to find another contractor to continue the renovation when I confronted him," said Lo.
She lodged a report at the Sungai Buloh police station on the same day, only to find out that Choy had already lodged a complaint against her at the same station, accusing her of cheating him of his payments.
"Now, I'm in a dilemma as I have no more money in my savings to pay for any more construction.
"I can't even file a civil suit against Choy as a lawyer friend told me that it is not possible to recover money from a bankrupt."
Department head Datuk Michael Chong said he would ask the police to investigate the suspect for cheating.
He said his department received 10 cases of people being cheated by contractors last year, with each case involving payments of between RM10,000 and RM200,000.
"I urge the public to be careful when choosing contractors in the future," said Chong. --NST