No matter how clever a squirrel jumps… (“Sepandai-pandai tupai melompat”)

6 02 2009

BRUNEIAN investors in Ponzi schemes (get-rich quick scams) should really take heed! Last Wednesday’s Singapore Straits Times’ (February 4, 2009) report: on Sunshine Empire founder James Phang must not be taken lightly.

The flamboyant and maverick ‘conman’ (together with three others, including his wife)Β  has been charged in the Singapore Subordinate Court with 20 charges of fraudulent business and criminal breach of trust (CBT) i.e. cheating 20,000 people from mostly Asian countries.

Phew! Sing$189 million down the drain and my wild guess is that probably almost half a million are Bruneian investors’ money! I suppose it’d take a miracle for them to salvage their cash back from that scam, disguised as Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)… 😦

I know quite a big number of Bruneians are gullible and had been duped over the years by such financial rip-offs ala ‘American Bernard Madoff’s’ USD50 billion fraud case! 😦

When will our people ever learn that there’s never any short-cut to impossible high-yield investments in the long run? A very, very costly lesson was supposed to have been gained by Bruneian ‘get-rich quick dreamers’ in the early 90s when millions of dollars went up in the air via Promail! 😦

Now, a few hundred Bruneians (and new members are still investing!) are stubborn enough to part with their hard-earned dollars to put into a so-called Malaysian ‘Islamic’ highly-profitable business scheme, with a minimum of BND5,000 deposit and a monthly return of BND400 guaranteed?! Even though, the country’s Ministry of Finance have been advising and warning them of the risky outcome they may be faced with at the end of the day, they simply won’t listen to reasons! I guess they’re filthy rich enough to not bother losing their ‘disposable income’? πŸ˜‰

In Japan last Thursday, Tokyo police have arrested 75-year-old Kazutsugi Nami, who’s accused of having conned some 37,000 people of a total of USD2 billion in possibly, the country’s biggest fraud case in history…

My own financial woes are putting me in dire straits already. I shouldn’t bother too much with other cash-rich people’s problems, should I? I’ve dug my own grave myself… unfortunately. 😦 But it’s not the end of the world for me. πŸ™‚





2 responses

6 02 2009

I wouldn’t say that they had been “investing” their “hard-earned dollars”. :p Anyway, I’m pretty disappointed too about these “get-rich-quick dreamers”. Money simply going down the drain, SIGH. $_$

7 02 2009

Well, actually, Oikon… to be honest with you why I wrote my inner thoughts about the issue in my ‘long-winded’ postings here is because I had a first hand look into the affairs of Sunshine Empire thingy. To sum it all, it’s pure marketing gimmickry!

A couple of years back, I was approached by one of my cousins who was (still is, I think) one of the earlier Bruneians (or pioneers, if you like) who’d made some of the first investments from Brunei. And starting with a registration fee of 150 or 250 dollars (I’m not quite sure) plus an initial minimum deposit of USD10k (in order for a member to be entitled to triple profits in double quick time!), you’re in business! It ain’t cheap but somehow, our richer countrymen poured in their investments in tens of thousands of dollars like water, literally! My poor aunt (more than 20k invested) was one of them, coaxed by who else if not her son as one of the “orang kuat” Sunshine… 😦

Being the “poklen” or the poor Bruneian clan where I came from, I simply registered for the basic membership i.e. to play safe only and wait and see (tongue-in-cheek) since their S’porean Founder, James Phang, was already being investigated then by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Being a member, I got to observe how Bruneian investors kept piling up (unbelievable how this pretty obvious ‘pyramid’ or Ponzi scheme sold like hot cupcakes, then!) until in a matter of weeks, monetary transactions from Brunei to Sunshine Empire’s Kuala Lumpur Branch Office (their S’pore HQ operations suspended due to MAS investigations) involved hundreds of thousands of dollars. Amazing how filthy-rich some of our fellow Bruneians are!

Not long after I enrolled as an ordinary member, there was a big grand International Convention being held in Genting Highlands resort near KL. So off I joined the Brunei delegation (who were only Observer Status since Sunshine didn’t have a ‘legally-registered’ company branch yet in Brunei) to check it out from close range. Ooh la la! It was really a huge affair with about 20,000 members attending from all over Asia, including Taiwan, HK, Korea & mainland China! So imagine, if a fully-fledged member invested on average USD10k per person X 20k ppl! WOW! Little wonder, then, they could afford to host such a lavish function with top-notch entertainers thrown in, as well.

To cut my long story short: How Sunshine Empire managed to woo investors (mostly wealthy professionals and big-time business people, mind you!) was they psyched the ‘unsuspecting’ folks using hyped-up motivational talks in almost trance-like hypnotism atmosphere and with BIG FAT PROFIT promises! With membership registering in droves, particularly from two of the big pop. market Indonesian and Chinese investors, Sunshine was really on a roll, man!

Bruneian delegates were enticed with special treatment (pampered, actually) because the investment for a small market like ours was comparable to the other bigger neighbours within ASEAN or even higher, given our buying power! One of our friends travelling together with us had even called up his wife to withdraw about 60k in cash from his Brunei bank account & sent to KL through a courier friend by plane. He’s an established SME contractor, by the way, so he can afford it! Another friend, who’s a BSP senior staff, had invested huge amounts in both the Sunshine Empire and Pan-Phoenix Dina respectively!

May Allah save their investments and give them the inspiration to get out of the Ponzi scheme before it is too late for them to turn back again… Greed is NO good! (to dispute Gordon Gekko of Wall Street movie):(

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