Zhong Kui Zhua Gui (鍾馗抓鬼)

The Zhong Kui 鍾馗 Scam / Con Expose Series (9) – What did we miss out?

Posted on August 31st, 2014 in Zhong Kui Zhua Gui (鍾馗抓鬼)

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number_nine_9876

“Why do the con artists succeed time and again? It is because they know they can exploit the ignorance, vulnerability or very often, the greed of their victims. Con artists often succeed because people hear the promise of easy money and they throw caution to the winds. They do not ask themselves questions, let alone do due diligence on the offer.”

Mr Tan Siong Thye, Director of Commercial Affairs Department, 2004 

 

A list of Scams to look out for

The BAIT:

hook

Look out for these common techniques of con artistes

1)    Tempting you with Big Money

2)    Putting you at ease with their friendly tone and generous offer

3)    Having believable answers read for your tough questions

4)    Expertly using your emotions against you

5)    Well crafted and researched telephone scripts which are often traded among criminals

6)    Professional marketing materials

7)    Impersonating legitimate businesses and charities

 

The List of Shame:

cry

1) ‘Apple Scam’

The scam involves two or more culprits acting in unison. The victim would be told that a misfortune would befall his loved ones but this could be prevented with a ritual. He would then be asked to put cash or jewellery in a plastic bag for the ritual and would be told to open the plastic bag a few days later.

2) Bucket Shop

Be aware of unscrupulous firms that used misleading job advertisements to lure job applicants to open trading accounts with the firms. Victims have complained that that they have been asked to deposit monies for trading in commodities such as pork bellies, soya bean or in securities such as share indices after they have turned up a job interviews. Victims are usually shown initial profits but soon start losing money and are asked by the firms to top up their accounts. To cut their losses or even to retrieve their principal sum, people end up investing more money and eventually losing their entire investment.

3) Car Rental Scam

The culprit would propose to rent out vehicles to victims at low prices. Upon paying the rental fees, the victims realize that the vehicles do not belong to the culprit and are not available for rent at all.

4) Church or Charity Donation Scams

The scam involves a culprit from overseas seeking assistance from victims to help him donate his savings to a church or charity to help the needy via e-mail. The culprit promised a small percentage of his wealth for the kind favour rendered by the victims. Victims however are later deceived into parting with monies as administrative fees.

ripnscam

 ripandscam.com

5) Cold Call Supplier Scams

The culprit would call the victim (who is usually the owner of a trading firm) from overseas and offer him the exclusive rights to sell a particular product in Singapore. Shortly after, ‘customers’ who are collaborating with the culprit would call the victim to place huge orders, inducing the victim to ask for goods from the culprit. The victim would be told to deliver monies to the culprit in order to obtain the goods which do not exist at all in the first place. Firms are strongly advised to check the credibility of such ‘cold call’ suppliers and customers before making any financial commitment.

6) Counterfeit Cheques

The victim would receive an unsolicited call informing him that he had won some prizes. He would be asked to provide his personal particulars and pay a small administrative fee.  After providing the information, the victim would subsequently receive an envelope containing a magazine and several fake travelers’ cheques that could not be redeemed eventually.

7) Counterfeit Currency Scam

The victim would be tricked to buy/exchange for counterfeit currency notes for purchases of goods and services.

8) Email Job Scam

Victims received emails offering Internet marketing jobs which allow them to earn high salaries from home if they were to purchase products from the culprit’s company. After paying, the victims find out that the claims were false and the culprit could not be contacted.

9) Email Scam Via Impersonation

The culprit would gain access into email accounts and send emails to the account holder’s contacts requesting for remittance of monies to assist the account holder who was stranded, robbed or hospitalized in a foreign country. Personal details about the email account holder such as his NRIC number and names of family members were included in the emails to make the email appeal appear believable.

shannon burns

10) Extortion Scam

The victim would receive threatening calls from unknown subjects purporting that they may harm his loved ones or cause damage to his property should he refuse to send a sum of money to them.

11) Financial Institutions Scam

The culprit would send notifications by email to unsuspecting victims claiming that their transactions were rejected by financial institutions and ask them to resend monies to another account. The public should always confirm with the financial institutions on their transactions before making any transfers.

12) Gold Exchange Scam

The elderly victim would be told that the culprit is a friend of the victim’s family member or relative who could exchange his jewellery for more expensive ones.

13) Impersonation Scam

 - Scenario 1

The victim would receive calls alleging that he is involved in a police or Court case. The caller (or a subsequent caller) would claim to be a police officer or Court staff and ask him to make a transfer of money to exonerate his involvement in the police or Court case. There are other variants of the scam such as the impersonation of a government / bank officer to seek bank account information.

- Scenario 2

Tricksters would impersonate law enforcement officials, advising victims to remit or transfer money to designated bank accounts in order to exonerate themselves from alleged crimes. The common allegations include failure to appear in court in relation to one’s involvement in money laundering, or unlicensed money lending cases. Police officers, Court officials, and other government officials do not require any individuals connected to a criminal case to transfer money to any bank accounts.

14) Job Application Scam

The victim would be offered jobs in return for a processing fee. In most cases, the victim would be asked to furnish upfront deposit.

color-harvard-fraud-web

15) Loan Scam

Victims would respond to a website offering loans and be asked to pay an administrative fee. After the victims remitted the fees to foreign accounts, they did not receive the loans or were asked to pay further fees to get the loans. The victims would also be unable to contact the parties involved.

16) Kidnap Hoax

Tricksters would claim that the victim’s loved one had been kidnapped and demand that a ransom be transferred to a specific bank account. These fake threats are usually accompanied by sounds of cries for help in the background. If you receive such calls, remain calm and try to contact your loved ones immediately. Sometimes contacting them fails as your loved ones have been misled into switching off their phones.  Do not panic.  Seek assistance from the police.

17) Lucky Draw Scam

The victim would receive winning notifications in a lucky draw. He would be asked to provide banking information including internet banking password(s). He may be asked to make up-front payments in order to claim his winnings.

18) Online Purchase Scam

The culprits would post advertisements on online shops posing as sellers of smart phones, tablets or any other gadget. The selling prices of these gadgets are usually much lower than the market prices, thus making them attractive to potential buyers. Victims are then instructed to make advanced payments to purchase the goods. However, the culprits never intended to deliver the goods.

In some cases, culprits would further deceive their victims by claiming that the goods have been delivered wrongly or are stuck at the Customs. Further payments are then asked from the victims. Victims typically accede to the requests for further payment but end up not receiving the goods.

19) Renovation Scam

The victim would be told that the culprit is a renovation contractor. He would be asked for money for renovation purchases that would never arrive.

20) Rental Scam

The scam involves a culprit renting a housing unit (or part of the unit) out to a number of victims concurrently and collecting deposits or advance rental payments from the victims. In some cases, the culprit does not have the authority to rent out the unit.

21) ‘Safe’ Account Scam

The victim would receive calls from unknown persons claiming that the victim’s bank accounts or credit cards had been hacked by third parties. The callers would claim to be police or bank officers and ask the victim to make a transfer of money to “safe” third-party accounts to prevent losing all his money.

Pump and Dump
www.moneysmart.gov.au

22) Pump and Dump Scam

A company may post a glowing press release about its new venture or profits. Fraudsters inside/outside the company may buy stocks of this company. They then “sell” the company via stock brokers or post stories via various channels such as bulletin boards, blogs or forums on the attractiveness of the stock. Often, there is no way to verify the authenticity of these posts. Investors may then rush in to buy the stock, resulting in the stock price of the company being pushed upwards. Fraudsters then sell their stocks at a profit. After they have sold their stocks for a profit, the stories cease and the stock price of the company falls.

23) Scratch and Win Scam

Victim was approached for a Scratch and Win promotion while shopping in Johor Bahru and told he had won prizes of high value. After paying high fees to redeem the prizes, victim found that the prizes were items of low value.

24) Tour Package Scam

The victim would transfer monies to the culprit for purchase of air tickets and/or travel packages. After receiving the monies, the culprit would send a confirmation reservation email to the victim or remain uncontactable. However, no reservation of air tickets and/or travel packages were made for the victim.

25) Welfare Assistance Scam

The victim would be told that the culprit is a government officer who could help to secure welfare benefits that are expiring soon. He would be asked to make a transfer of money.

say-no-to-scam

 

(*Materials adapted from Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore)

We hope you share our Zhong Kui 鍾馗 Scam / Con Expose Series Postings as far and wide as you can to warn your loved ones and the general public! It has been enjoyable coming up with this series and we hope we have made a positive difference.

Our Best, Always!

Empower Advisory Team

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The Zhong Kui 鍾馗 Scam / Con Expose Series (8) – Internet Love Scam

Posted on August 31st, 2014 in Zhong Kui Zhua Gui (鍾馗抓鬼)

zhong-kui2
number_eight_9880

“Why do the con artists succeed time and again? It is because they know they can exploit the ignorance, vulnerability or very often, the greed of their victims. Con artists often succeed because people hear the promise of easy money and they throw caution to the winds. They do not ask themselves questions, let alone do due diligence on the offer.”

Mr Tan Siong Thye, Director of Commercial Affairs Department, 2004 

 

Online Romeo / Juliet Scam

The BAIT:

“Honey, I love you.  I’ve even given you my most intimate photos and told you everything about myself.  Surely you can trust me?”

 

The TRUTH:

loe scam comic strip 1

1) Singapore residents are befriended by members of foreign criminal syndicates on social networking websites. The scammer will pose as a lonely individual (usually with a fabulous photo and profile) seeking companionship and love. They may claim to be in some form of financial situation and request for help. They may also claim to be detained by the authorities and request for financial assistance. The victims will usually be asked to transfer a sum of money to a foreign bank account. After the scam victims have transferred the money, the scammers may promise to meet up, sometimes for an intimate encounter but never show up.

2) Sometimes, after gaining their trust, the criminal will request the Singapore resident to open a new bank account or use existing bank accounts to receive money sent from overseas. If the Singapore resident has no bank account, he will be asked to open one. When the money has been received in the bank account, the account owner will be asked to send the money to another person or to a company, usually overseas.

3) The criminal will usually claim that:

a) He (or she) is operating a business in a foreign country, and he does not have a bank account in that country;

b) Someone, usually a client or a relative, will be sending money;

c) The assistance of the Singapore resident is needed to receive the money in Singapore, and thereafter remit the funds to the syndicate member or his business partner in the foreign country;

The Singapore resident could also be asked to withdraw the money in cash and to hand the cash to the syndicate member or his associate in Singapore. Whatever the method, the money received in the bank accounts of these Singapore residents are the proceeds of crime. By receiving and transferring criminal proceeds, you are an abettor of money laundering and can be charged in court.

 

Oh no, I think I’m in an online relationship with an internet love scammer.  What should I do ?!

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What should you do?

police ad
First, ask yourself. Is the person you met online really who he/she claims to be?

Be aware that anyone, including criminals, can hide behind attractive photos and identities of other people or fictitious entities.

Be wary of strangers who want to befriend you online and start asking for money

Do not remit or transfer money to people whom you do not know well enough

Do not give your particulars or bank account details to persons you do not know or have met only over the Internet

Don’t let the criminal syndicate fool you into believing that you have developed a romantic relationship.

Be mindful that giving your bank account details to someone else allows them to misuse your account for criminal purposes.

Ignore or decline any request by online acquaintances for fund transfers.

Be sceptical of the reasons offered by your online acquaintances for using your account to transfer money.

If you have received money in your bank account under the circumstances outlined above, alert CAD and your bank immediately. If the money is still in your bank account, do not deal with it. Report the matter to CAD and to your bank.

Anyone who assists fraudsters to move stolen money may be liable for criminal offences whether or not there was monetary benefit.

Call the Police immediately at ’999′ to report the case.

(*Materials adapted from Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore and ThreatMatrix.com)

 

Our Best, Always

Empower Advisory Team

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The Zhong Kui 鍾馗 Scam / Con Expose Series (7) – Going Undercover!

Posted on August 31st, 2014 in Zhong Kui Zhua Gui (鍾馗抓鬼)

Zhong-Kui-09

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“Why do the con artists succeed time and again? It is because they know they can exploit the ignorance, vulnerability or very often, the greed of their victims. Con artists often succeed because people hear the promise of easy money and they throw caution to the winds. They do not ask themselves questions, let alone do due diligence on the offer.”

Mr Tan Siong Thye, Director of Commercial Affairs Department, 2004 

 

Quick Get-rich Seminars (Going Undercover)

The BAIT:

 

“Tony turned £3,000 into £47,000 in just nine weeks!”

“Samet made 30% on this first trade, and each day his profits rise.”

These are just some of the glowing but unverified testimonials shared at quick get rich seminars. In 2013, reporter David Robinson from the Guardian decided to go undercover to a few Quick-Get-Rich Seminars in the UK for an insider scoop

hook

Undercover Assignment 1 – The Wealth Training Company

The Wealth Training Company 2

1) My journey begins by getting thrown out of the first event I attend.

 

2) Hi-energy pop blasts out of the speakers as attendees arrive at a “live trading day” run by industry veteran Darren Winters on a muggy Tuesday afternoon. “Raise your hand if you want to make a load of money,” says Winters, who is in his early 40s, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, and sports a goatee.

 

3) Winters is something of a controversial figure. In the mid-2000s his company held events up and down the UK. However, his promotional claims led to a reprimand from the Advertising Standards Authority. In recent years he has had a lower profile, but he is now back teaching stock market trading.

 

4) If you type “Darren Winters” into Google it’s not difficult to find negative stories. I decided to fudge questions on the course application form about my reasons for attending. Was he really that bad?

 

5) He proves to be an engaging presenter and provides some standard advice: stick to stocks in the S&P 500 and the FTSE 350 – there is more liquidity and therefore more likelihood of predictable trade patterns. But it transpires that he is also seeking volunteers for his “Elite Apprentice Programme”, which starts costing as much as a new car, but rapidly tumbles in price – if people sign up today.

 

6) A few hours into the seminar my constant note-taking arouses Winters’ suspicions. He really does not trust journalists. “The media never reports on us fairly,” he says, as I am booted out at the half-way point. So, despite being promised that I’d discover how to “copy our graduate who made £9,940 tax free in seven days”, unfortunately I’ll never find out. What I do know is he doesn’t like hacks sniffing round his business.

 

Undercover Assignment 2 – Knowledge to Action

Knowledge to Action

1) The following week I’m at an introductory stock trading seminar run by Knowledge to Action in a plush mahogany-panelled hotel near Westminster Bridge. It opens with a slick video presentation accompanied by a driving soundtrack. The message is clear: the greatest opportunity in the history of mankind is here for the taking.

 

2) “How many of you would like to make money from the next stock market crash?” says smooth-talking company representative, Gurdas Singh, to the 35-strong audience. “My guys on the trading floor like it when the market crashes because they see it as an opportunity.”

 

3) Knowledge to Action’s “trading floor” has space to teach beginners, Singh says – and with the right training a “rookie trader” can soon pull in £2,000 a week. “Anyone can do it,” he says, “but if you want to be a pilot you’ve got to learn from a pilot.”

 

4) The talk is punctuated with references to dream holidays and flashy cars that are within everyone’s grasp.

 

5) Knowledge to Action was founded a decade ago by former IT consultant Greg Secker and has trained more than 100,000 people around the world. Students are taught by professional traders on live trading floors, the company says. I put out some feelers on internet forums used by traders. Had people who attended managed to make any real money? The first to come back to me was a former employee of Knowledge to Action.

 

6) “There is very little real trading going on there,” he said, in a recorded interview. “The so-called professional traders haven’t come from investment banks. They are more likely to be ex-double glazing salesmen.”

 

7) John Crawley, told me he struggled to apply some of the techniques he was taught. “I found I was missing basic information,” he says. “It was supposed to be followed by one-on-one sessions but this never materialised. The best I got was someone on Skype, but they couldn’t really answer my questions. It wasn’t worth the money.”

 

Undercover Assignment 3 – Investment Mastery

Investment Mastery

1) A retail park in a humdrum Hertfordshire commuter town is an inauspicious place to seek your fortune, but at 9.30am Investment Mastery’s office in Elstree is heaving with people, in spite of the Saturday morning sunshine.

 

2) “Is everyone excited and wanting to make some money?” asks Allan Kleynhans, a South African in grey slacks and black shiny shoes, who is leading the seminar. On the walls of the low-ceilinged function room are quotes about unleashing your inner potential and colourful images of golden eggs. The 40-stong multicultural audience, aged from teen to pensioner, mumbles back in agreement. “You won’t make any money today,” he informs us, “but we’ll help you to learn.

 

3) The recurring theme of this £80 one-day workshop is the importance of having the right mindset: to make money you need to think positive.

 

4)“People often have a difficult relationship with money,” explains Marcus de Maria, a business consultant who founded Investment Mastery in 2004. “They need to adjust how they think.”

 

5) At the one-day seminar, Olga, a Polish lady from Hastings, looks confused. “It’s going a bit fast,” she says. At the desk behind us, staff members stand waiting with card readers. “Don’t let the price put you off,” Allan urges. “This stuff changes lives.”

 

Do you recognise some of the same approach and tactics in seminars in Singapore that you may have attended?

 

brain washing

NLP techniques are used to create a buying mood in the audience and create a hypnotizing state of mind control.

 

Recognize these common mind-control techniques.

 

1) Repetition of the message through means ranging from saying singing or chanting the same phrases over and over, often emphasizing certain key words or phrases.

 

2) Mimicking the rhythm of the human heartbeat through the thought leader’s speech cadence or musical accompaniment. This can be enhanced with lighting that’s not too dim or too harsh and a room temperature to encourage relaxation.

3) Never letting you have time to think. This can mean simply never letting you have time alone, or it can mean bombarding you with repeated lectures while discouraging questions.

 

4) Making you say “Yes” or “I agree” or “I want to be rich” or words to similar effect countless time to soften you up and prepare you to eventually say “Yes” to buy their products or courses.

 

Oh no, I think I’m being brainwashed !!!

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What should you do?

Trust your intuition.

 

If your gut tells you somebody is trying to mind manipulate you and rush you into making a decision, flee.  Or request firmly upfront that they show you respect by not applying NLP techniques when interacting with you.

(*Materials adapted from Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore and The Guardian)

 

Our Best, Always

Empower Advisory Team

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The Zhong Kui 鍾馗 Scam / Con Expose Series (6) – Quick Get-rich Trading Seminars

Posted on August 30th, 2014 in Zhong Kui Zhua Gui (鍾馗抓鬼)

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“Why do the con artists succeed time and again? It is because they know they can exploit the ignorance, vulnerability or very often, the greed of their victims. Con artists often succeed because people hear the promise of easy money and they throw caution to the winds. They do not ask themselves questions, let alone do due diligence on the offer.”

Mr Tan Siong Thye, Director of Commercial Affairs Department, 2004 

 

Quick Get-rich Trading Seminars

The BAIT:

 

“Mrs Y turned $2,000 into $15,000 in three days” 

“Mr X makes 1,500% profit in one week”

“You will develop a millionaire sure-win system”

“Amazing no-money down strategy”

hook

FACT:

1) Glossy marketing, name dropping, posing in photos with recognizable investment personality are just a few of many gimmicks to reel people in to sign up for dodgy, overhyped investment courses or buy “clever” trading software.

 

2) For example, some seminar operators use Mary Buffet as a partner, to use her famous surname and previous association with Warren Buffet to gain credibility. Some people mistake Mary Buffet as Warren Buffet’s daughter and therefore knows all there is to know about how Warren Buffet invest. The truth is Mary Buffett was Warren Buffett’s ex daughter-in-law. She divorced his son in 1993. Since then, she has cleverly maintained her ex father-in-law’s surname to gain acceptance and ride on his investment fame. Warren Buffet has never endorsed Mary Buffet. In fact, he has endorsed nobody in the world.

 

3) Be extra diligent and cautious when you come across offers of exceptionally high or consistent profits and claims that cannot be verified and hyped up.

 

4) To encourage the audience to sign up for the course or products sold, the seminar operator plants its own staff within the audience to pretend to sign up for courses, rush to the stage and give their own scripted testimonials to endorse the courses or products sold.

 

How do you protect yourself?

 

brain washing

NLP techniques are used to create a buying mood in the audience and create a hypnotizing state of mind control.

 

Recognize these common mind-control techniques.

 

1) Repetition of the message through means ranging from saying singing or chanting the same phrases over and over, often emphasizing certain key words or phrases.

 

2) Mimicking the rhythm of the human heartbeat through the thought leader’s speech cadence or musical accompaniment. This can be enhanced with lighting that’s not too dim or too harsh and a room temperature to encourage relaxation.

3) Never letting you have time to think. This can mean simply never letting you have time alone, or it can mean bombarding you with repeated lectures while discouraging questions.

 

4) Making you say “Yes” or “I agree” or “I want to be rich” or words to similar effect countless time to soften you up and prepare you to eventually say “Yes” to buy their products or courses.

 

Oh no, I think I’m being brainwashed !!!

cry

What should you do?

Trust your intuition.

If your gut tells you somebody is trying to mind manipulate you and rush you into making a decision, flee.  Or request firmly upfront that they show you respect by not applying NLP techniques when interacting with you.

 

(*Materials adapted from Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore)

 

Our Best, Always

Empower Advisory Team

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The Zhong Kui 鍾馗 Scam / Con Expose Series (5) – High Yield/Get Rich Quick Investment Programmes

Posted on August 30th, 2014 in Zhong Kui Zhua Gui (鍾馗抓鬼)

Zhong-Kui-05

number_five_9878

“Why do the con artists succeed time and again? It is because they know they can exploit the ignorance, vulnerability or very often, the greed of their victims. Con artists often succeed because people hear the promise of easy money and they throw caution to the winds. They do not ask themselves questions, let alone do due diligence on the offer.”

Mr Tan Siong Thye, Director of Commercial Affairs Department, 2004

 

High Yield Investment Program

The BAIT:

1) Several investment programmes touted over the Internet promise high returns for little or no risk. These investment programmes are also known as High Yield Investment Programs or HYIPs.

hook

2) Many of these HYIPs offer attractive returns as high as 1-5% per trading day. When annualised, it is obvious that such returns far exceed the most generous yields offered by mainstream financial institutions operating in our financial markets. Operators of these HYIPs provide little substantial detail about themselves except shows of wealth (unverified) at their websites and photos of them posing with all sorts of better known celebrities, objects of wealth and lots of people. To attract investors, they require only a small amount of money to be invested with them.

 

3) The promoters/operators of HYIPs tend to be vague about underlying financial instruments used in their investment programmes and about how such high returns can be sustained. Some might claim that their investment programme invests in complex financial instruments like prime bank instruments or private placement programmes. However, they do not give adequate explanation of how these financial instruments work. Instead, they assert that such financial instruments are the “best kept secret” in the banking industry and only available to a privileged few. The potential investor is informed that banks and regulators would deny the existence of such financial instruments. The potential investor may also be told that he is extremely fortunate that the operators are willing to share this golden opportunity with a complete stranger like him.

 

FACT:

The truth is that all these claims are bogus. Despite having credible-sounding names, such financial instruments exist only as figments of the fraudster’s imagination. A number of these HYIPs operate as Ponzi scams. In a Ponzi scam, funds are collected from new investors and these funds are used to pay the returns promised to existing investors. Often there is little or no investment made by the HYIP operators. So long as there are fresh funds from new investors, the HYIP scam can be sustained. Obviously, such a HYIP cannot be sustained indefinitely and it will eventually collapse.

 

Warning Signs of a HYIP being an Investment Scam

 

Graphic by Joel Becker/Dunn County News

1) High returns with guarantee of no risk or low risk

Be wary of HYIPs that promise extremely high returns. Remember, investment programmes that provide expectations of high returns are often also high risk in nature. A promise of unrealistic returns at little or no risk is a hallmark of a con / scam.

2) We would like you to invest with us, but we can’t tell you too much about ourselves

Exercise caution if the HYIP operator claims that its operations are based outside of

Singapore. Be aware that fraudsters may use business centres here or elsewhere as a virtual office to create the impression that they are operating in a particular location when they are not. Current technology allows these fraudsters to use mail services, faxes and telephone calls that can be easily routed to another country.

 

If the HYIP is a con operated from outside Singapore, it is most unlikely that your monies can be recovered. It will be difficult to bring the perpetrators to justice.

 

3) We promise high returns but do not ask us exactly what we do with your money

Understand what you are getting into. This is your money – do not be afraid to ask questions. A genuine financial professional will usually be happy to explain in detail the investment programme he is marketing. Alarm bells should sound if the promoter/operator of a HYIP tries to maintain an air of secrecy around the underlying financial instruments they offer. Do not make a hasty decision. Do research to find out more about the HYIP that is being offered to you. Seek professional advice if necessary. The underlying financial instruments in the HYIP offered to you may be fictitious.

 

4) We are backed by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the U.S. Federal Reserve etc

There have been cases where the promoters/operators of the HYIP claimed that their investment programme is backed by established institutions like the US Federal Reserve, the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

These institutions have international stature, which is why a fraudster would want to claim their involvement in the investment programme. Verify any such claims by checking with these institutions. Their contact details are easily available on their websites.

 

Oh no, I think I’ve invested in a HYIP con / scam !!!

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1) You may already have invested in a HYIP, and you recognise the warning signs listed above. However, you have been receiving returns on a regular basis or you may know friends who have invested and are happy with the returns they have received.

2) You may wonder whether we are being over-cautious, and causing you or your friends to lose out on a great investment opportunity.

3) The fact is that in many cases reported to police, the investors had initially believed that the HYIP was not a scam because they had received some returns. They realised that they had been defrauded only after the HYIP had collapsed. Payment of returns is a very persuasive tactic used to lure new investors and to induce existing investors to increase their stakes in the HYIP. If the HYIP is a Ponzi scam, the returns you receive are in fact funded by other investors.

4) If you recognize the warning signs listed above, or if you have any doubts about the legitimacy of your investment, do your own research into the investment now. Ask questions of the operators of the HYIP to clear any doubts you have. If you are still unsure about the HYIP, ask for the return of your capital. Unless your investment contract is for a specified time period, there is no reason why your investment cannot be refunded early, if the HYIP has no risk or low risk as claimed and it has been generating returns.

Exercise due care when considering any investment and refrain from promoting HYIP to others unless you have verified their legitimacy. It is often too late to recover any monies by the time a HYIP scam falls apart.

 

(*Materials adapted from Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore)

 

Our Best, Always

Empower Advisory Team

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The Zhong Kui 鍾馗 Scam / Con Expose Series (4) – The “419” Scam

Posted on August 30th, 2014 in Zhong Kui Zhua Gui (鍾馗抓鬼)

 

Zhong-Kui-04
number_four_9877

“Why do the con artists succeed time and again? It is because they know they can exploit the ignorance, vulnerability or very often, the greed of their victims. Con artists often succeed because people hear the promise of easy money and they throw caution to the winds. They do not ask themselves questions, let alone do due diligence on the offer.”

Mr Tan Siong Thye, Director of Commercial Affairs Department, 2004

 

The “419″ or Nigerian Mail Scam

The BAIT:

You receive an unsolicited email informing you that “I’m an external auditor of ABC Bank. Deceased has left behind a sum of 25 million euros in a bank account. Please help us get the money moved out of our country. If you help us, we will give you Y% of the total, or $2 million”.”

FACT:

The above extract is an example of the infamous “Advanced fees scams” commonly termed “419” fraud (named after the relevant section of the Nigerian Criminal Code)

The con artist typically sends letters or emails claiming to have acquired or inherited large sums of money. Sometimes they claim to have excess government or bank funds.

They seek the victim’s help to provide a foreign bank account number to be used to transfer the ‘funds’ out of Africa or another country. The victim is promised a huge commission in return. These offers are bogus and the victims are often duped into paying large sums of money in up-front payments, purportedly as taxes or fees in order to transfer the ‘funds’

AN EXAMPLE

Nigeria Scam

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

 

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If it sounds too good to be true, be suspicious. Ignore them or pass the letter or email to the Commercial Affairs Department in Singapore to investigate

(*Materials adapted from Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore)

 

Our Best, Always

Empower Advisory Team

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The Zhong Kui 鍾馗 Scam / Con Expose Series (3) – Boiler Room & the Cold Caller

Posted on August 30th, 2014 in Zhong Kui Zhua Gui (鍾馗抓鬼)

 

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“Why do the con artists succeed time and again? It is because they know they can exploit the ignorance, vulnerability or very often, the greed of their victims. Con artists often succeed because people hear the promise of easy money and they throw caution to the winds. They do not ask themselves questions, let alone do due diligence on the offer.”

Mr Tan Siong Thye, Director of Commercial Affairs Department, 2004

Boiler Room & the Cold Caller Scam

The BAIT:

“I am calling from Tan & Hock investment products and we have a great offer for you. According to our analyst, this investment product is going to triple in just two days’ time” Buy it or you will live to regret not making a pile from this golden opportunity”

FACT:

‘Boiler-rooms’ are high-pressure phone sales operations that often promote fraudulent deals. Overseas ‘boiler-rooms’ may even make use of various telecommunication facilities to maintain “virtual offices” in Singapore to create a false impression that they are based in Singapore.

They may also open bank accounts in Singapore to receive remittances. The money deposited by victims into these bank accounts is usually transferred to a foreign bank account quickly.

 

Tell-tale signs of “Boiler Rooms Scam”

 

1) High Pressure Sales

‘Boiler-room’ operators make cold calls to potential investors and persuade them over long and pressurizing conversations to buy recommended products. Often, they promise high returns, deflect questions that seek more details and use psychological ploys to trick people into buying products they know nothing about or do not really want.

2) The 3 calls technique

Some cold callers wait before turning up the heat. They first build up your trust in them by introducing their services and track record. Later, they tell you about a fabulous deal that cannot be missed and they urge you to “buy now” or live to regret it

 

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

 

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1) HANG UP. Remember: you are in control. You do not have to entertain the caller if you do not want to.

2) AVOID making a hasty or immediate decision.

3) VERIFY the sales information independently through credible sources and seek professional advice if necessary.

4) DO NOT give out information on your credit cards, bank accounts or any personal particulars over the phone to strangers.

(*Materials adapted from Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore)

 

Our Best, Always

Empower Advisory Team

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The Zhong Kui 鍾馗 Scam / Con Expose Series (2) – Credit Card Scam

Posted on August 28th, 2014 in Zhong Kui Zhua Gui (鍾馗抓鬼)

 

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“Why do the con artists succeed time and again? It is because they know they can exploit the ignorance, vulnerability or very often, the greed of their victims. Con artists often succeed because people hear the promise of easy money and they throw caution to the winds. They do not ask themselves questions, let alone do due diligence on the offer.”

Mr Tan Siong Thye, Director of Commercial Affairs Department, 2004

Credit Card Scam

The BAIT:

“Good morning! I am calling from XXX International Ltd, associate of Visa and Mastercard. We are giving out free iPhone 6 to subscribers of these credit cards.  We would just like to verify that you really hold a credit card, so provide us with your credit card number, expiry date, credit limit, name and address please?”

FACT:

The con artist, posing as a customer services officer, may call you with the above story. He or she may alternatively pose as an investigator of a financial institution, and call up an unsuspecting you over the phone claiming that he is verifying a particular transaction purportedly carried out by you.

On the pretext of checking whether you still have your credit card, the con artist may request you to provide the 3-digit number located at the signature panel of the card. You may then be deceived into releasing the 3-digit Card Validation Value (CVV). Combined with other credit card details, the con artist may use the CW to commit fraud via the Internet, mail or telephone.

 

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

 

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1) Keep your card account numbers and personal identification number (PIN) in a safe and confidential place.  Do not carry your PIN in your wallet, because if your card and PIN are both stolen, the culprit may use them to commit fraud.

 

2) Check your cards periodically to be sure none are missing.

 

3) Destroy or safely secure copies of receipts,airline tickets, travel itineraries, and anything that displays your card numbers or details.

4) Do not provide information, especially on credit card details, that you are uncomfortable in giving. If in doubt, always call the card issuing bank to verify the identity of the caller.

5) Never give anyone the password that you use to log on to your online account or Internet Service Provider (ISP).

 

6) Keep a list of all your credit cards and account information along with the card issuer’s contact information.

 

7) If anything looks suspicious or should you lose your credit card(s), you should contact the card issuer immediately.

 

8) Alert your credit card issuing bank immediately if you suspect a transaction to be fraudulent.

 

(*Materials adapted from Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore)

Our Best, Always

Empower Advisory Team

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The Zhong Kui 鍾馗 Scam / Con Expose Series (1) – Lucky Draw /Lottery Scam

Posted on August 27th, 2014 in Zhong Kui Zhua Gui (鍾馗抓鬼)

 

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“Why do the con artists succeed time and again? It is because they know they can exploit the ignorance, vulnerability or very often, the greed of their victims. Con artists often succeed because people hear the promise of easy money and they throw caution to the winds. They do not ask themselves questions, let alone do due diligence on the offer.”

Mr Tan Siong Thye, Director of Commercial Affairs Department, 2004

 

Lucky draw / Lottery Scam

1) Tricksters usually make calls from overseas, email or SMS victims, informing them that they have won prize money in a foreign lucky draw or lottery.  Fictitious documents such as lottery tickets might also be provided.

2) The trickster may claim that its operations is based in Singapore. Be aware that fraudsters may use business centres here or elsewhere as a virtual office to create the impression that they are operating in a particular location when they are not. Current technology allows these fraudsters to use mail services, faxes and telephone calls that can be easily routed. If a scam operated from outside Singapore, it is likely that your monies cannot be recovered and it may be difficult to bring the perpetrators to justice.

3) Victims are then asked to provide their personal particulars and a bank account number to facilitate the transfer of the prize money.

4) Having deceived the victims into believing that they had won the lucky draw/lottery, the tricksters will convince them into making up-front payments, purportedly as tax or other forms of payments to administer the release of the ‘prize money’. After duping the victims of their money, the trickster either conjure up more tales to solicit further payments from them, or may abscond altogether.

Real Life Reported Cases (Just 2 of many, many cases in Singapore)

Case Study 1 - 2009 – Mdm Tan, Victim Of A Lucky Draw Scam (Lost $98,733)

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1) Mdm Tan (Real Name Withheld), 55, a manager received a telephone call from a female caller over her mobile phone. The caller claimed to be representing an investment company based in Hong Kong. The caller addressed Mdm Tan by her name and invited her to attend a road show which the caller claimed would be organised by the company in Singapore a few days later.

2) Mdm Tan replied that she would not be able to attend the road show.

3) A few days later, Mdm Tan received a call from another female caller from the same company. This caller informed Mdm Tan that during the road show, a lucky draw was conducted, during which, Mdm Tan’s name had been selected as the winner to the third prize, which is a cash sum of S$30,000.

4) Initially, Mdm Tan did not believe the news. However, when the caller continued to contact her diligently over the following few days, Mdm Tan was eventually convinced that she had indeed won the lucky draw prize. (To give more credence to the scam, the perpertrator may, as in another case, provide the victim with the contact details of a co-accomplice who would pretend to be the winner of a previous lucky draw conducted by the company to convince the victim.)

5) Different callers contacted Mdm Tan and they induced her to remit monies to different recipients in China for various reasons, such as administrative, lawyer fees and taxation, so that the prize money could be released to her. The callers further deceived Mdm Tan into believing that her lucky draw prize of S$30,000 had been used to invest in horse racing and that the money had snowballed to a sum of S$300,000.

6) Between 24 November 2009 and 24 February 2010, Mdm Tan was lured into making remittances to various beneficiaries in China. On each occasion, she remitted a sum ranging between S$1,300 and S$5,000. Her total losses amounted to S$98,733.

7) In this case, the callers had convinced Mdm Tan to give a false reason for the remittance should she be asked by the remittance company. They were afraid that the remittance company might raise the alarm due to the multiple transfers.  She was asked to claim that the remittances were payments to beneficiaries whom she personally knew.

8) After sending all the moneys, Mdm Tan had still not received her winnings. Instead, the callers continued to hound her for more money. In March 2010, Mdm Tan began to suspect that she has been cheated. She then lodged a Police report. BY THEN, SHE HAD LOST HER LIFE SAVINGS AND WAS IN DEBT!

Case Study 2 - 2014 – Mr Tan, Victim Of A Lucky Draw Scam (Lost $310,000)

1) In June 2014, Mr Tan (Real Name Withheld)  received a call telling him that he had won $180,000 in a lucky draw in Hong Kong.

2) Because he was not a Hong Kong citizen, he was told to pay $4,300 in order to claim the prize.  Mr Tan, blinded by greed, agreed.

3) A week later , the same caller informed him that his $180,000 prize money had ballooned to $2.7 million because the company had invested his $180,000 on horse racing bets.

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4) To secure the $2.7 million, he was told to transfer more money to the company. To convince Mr Tan to continue sending money, the company faked a lawyer call to explain to him the procedures about collecting the prize. Some time later, the company contacted Mr Tan that the prize money of $2.7 million had been deposited into a bank account in Hong Kong and gave him a fake account number and a password to verify.

5) Mr Tan called the number and a fake automated message over the phone verified the amount.  Mr Tan felt relieved, thinking that it was real.

6) In the end, Mr Tam transferred a total of $310,000, some of which was borrowed from friends and relatives. HE IS YET ANOTHER VICTIM, WHO HAS TO LIVE WITH REGRETS FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.

How to protect yourself?

Both Mr and Mdm Tan are just two of many victims of the infamous lucky draw / lottery scam. Don’t be the next!

 

1) If you receive such calls, DO NOT reveal your personal information over the phone.

2) IGNORE the notifications of how to collect the prize money.

3) DO NOT make any advance payments to claim such prize monies.

4) ALERT the Police.

(*Materials adapted from Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore)

Our Best, Always

Empower Advisory Team

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The Zhong Kui 鍾馗 Scam / Con Expose Series – 27 Aug 2014

Posted on August 26th, 2014 in Zhong Kui Zhua Gui (鍾馗抓鬼)

 

Zhong Kui

Zhong Kui 鍾馗, a figure of Chinese mythology is regarded as a vanquisher of evil spirits and beings.

He is depicted as a fierce-looking man, tall with a full beard. He may not win MANHUNT, but he is upright and outspoken, showing no fear of evil.

As the legend goes, Zhong Kui achieved top honours in the Imperial Examinations but because of his repulsive appearance, was stripped of his title by the Emperor.  Aggrieved and heartbroken, he ended his own life.  However, during his judgment, the King of the Underworld discovered his intelligence and sense of righteousness.  He therefore commanded Zhong Kui to contribute to society by hunting and capturing malicious spirits who cause harm to the people.

Empower Advisory, through various platforms seek to warn the public of hurtful scams and cons out there.

If you discover any such confirmed/potential scam and con activities, you can tip us off.  Together we can work towards a con/scam free Singapore!

We will start a (Zhong Kui Zua Gui 鍾馗抓鬼)-  Zhong Kui catches Evil Spirits – Blog category where bite-size breezy reads to alert you of scam/cons out there are shared on a regular basis.

Do share the postings so that our loves ones will not suffer financial ruin and needless psychological anguish caused by scams, cons and misrepresentations.

Say no to scam II

 

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