1) I would like to share my experience yesterday as I accompanied a friend to a one to one sales pitch by a dodgy investment company. I went with him as I was concerned he would get duped. I had seen the materials he emailed me and knew it was an investment scam. But I had time and I wanted to check out how convincing these con-artistes can be.
2) We met at Big Mac Centre at Ang Mo Kio in mid-afternoon. Let’s call these 2 dodgy clowns A and B.
3) I had expected to meet the director of this company as arranged by my friend. Instead I found myself face to face with A and B. Both looked like they were in their 40s. A and B started their sales pitch to us by saying that they were not representing the company. The director who was supposed to come, was not available. In my mind, I went WTF. Why on earth are you even talking to me in the first place if you don’t represent the company? But I kept my cool and let them continue.
4) A allowed B to do the talking.
5) B showed me the BizFile profile of the company and pointed out that it has a business code related to fund management. It showed a paid up of $200,000. I was not impressed. I could also incorporate a company with the same business code and reflect a $2,000,000 paid up if I wanted to without putting a single cent in the company (You just have to know how to). I asked if it had a fund management license approved by MAS. He shook his head.
6) B showed me that the projected returns per month is 5 to 12% and that he had invested a small amount. I asked him to show me his so-called account and he declined, saying it’s so small it’s insignificant. I pointed out to him that what he showed me are just excel projections. Where is the evidence? He kept quiet. I mentioned Singliforex which closed shop (in Singapore) recently, leaving their misled flock in the lurch. I wanted to test their reaction. A suddenly looked perturbed. He distanced himself from Singliforex rightaway.
7) I next asked B what the company invested in to generate such attractive monthly returns so I can verify them independently. The cheesy looking brochure, with “SwissQuote” splashed across it just mentioned that the investment company invested in commodities, forex and stocks. I asked him for the details of the investments and he said he did not know. I asked him if he was comfortable investing in a black box and he mumbled an almost inaudible yes. He mentioned that “SwissQuote” paid the investment company a commission for using its trading platform and that the commission is passed on to clients. Doesn’t it sound ridiculous? He showed me the forex rate spread should I cash out my investment and the spread was more than 10% to my disadvantage. He must have thought that I was very, very drunk or clouded from the haze.
8) Meanwhile A kept referring to the investment company’s originator, a Malaysian as per the BizFile profile of this investment company, as the Leader. Geez, this is what happens when a cult leader starts an investment company scam. He takes on the moniker as Leader. He might as well call himself the Creator.
9) He then showed me the DBS bank account number and swift code of the investment company. I smiled to myself. Am I supposed to be impressed?
10) B sensed I was clearly not convinced enough to invest in this nonsense and began to change tack. He showed me the incentive scheme of referring customers to this scheme. There was a whole lot of mumbo jumbo. Loyalty bonus. Retention bonus.
11) A sensed my restlessness and told B to cut short the presentation.
12) He then accused my friend of misleading me. “Over email and whatsapp, you said you and your friend (me) are interested. Why do you seem uninterested now and ask all these questions. You have wasted your friend’s time.”
13) It was too much. I replied. “My friend did not mislead me. He said you were bringing the director to meet us. Instead you brought B who’s a sales rep and obvious clueless. We need to understand more how it works.
14) We left. And went to Big Bern’s for a late lunch.
15) I’m glad my friend was not duped and even though I wasted half an hour of my life with these amateur con-artistes, I now know of yet another vile scheme.
16) Don’t be a victim.
My Best Always,
Douglas Chow (Principal Coach)
Formerly served at the Ministry of Trade and Industry