Saturday, February 12, 2011

Group cheated in seaweed farming scam

AT LEAST 19 people were cheated by a man who invited them to invest in a seaweed-harvesting company.
These victims recently brought their case to the Selangor MCA public complaints bureau.

One of the victims, Mandy Cheong Wai Mun, 38, said she met the man through a friend in 2007.

“He showed us a seaweed farming area in Semporna, Sabah, and had asked us to invest in the project at RM3,300 per lot. He promised a return of seven per cent per year, payable every four months,” said Cheong.

Get-rich-quick scam: Theng Book (seated, third from left) with some of the scam victims who saw him at his office.
After she invested in the lot, Cheong said the man, who she identified as Choi Kok Peng, asked her to open up another company and appointed her as a “smart partner” to get more investors, allowing her to collect 30% in commission before transferring the investment money to the main company.

Bureau chief Datuk Theng Book said the modus operandi was the same for all other partners who were appointed to gather investors for the main company, registered under AK United Sdn Bhd.

He believes that at least RM160mil has been “invested” in this company.

To lure investors, the company offered the lots at RM3,300 but told people that they should invest as soon as possible as the price was set to rise to RM4,900.

“He also said that he was going to invest in other businesses like prawn farming and frozen storages and even brought us to see some of these facilities,” said Cheong.

She said that each person who invested in more than five lots would be taken to Semporna to view the seaweed farming area, with flight and accommodation all paid for.

“The company was started in April 2007 and I joined the scheme in November 2007. We have only received the dividends once,” said Cheong, who had since managed to get about 300 investors under her company.

When the partners asked Choi for their dividends, they were told that the money had been invested into an American company and he held 66 million units of shares which he would transfer to them in lieu of the dividends.

“He said that he would get everything done by Dec 31, 2009 but he had disappeared by Dec 16. We even went to look for his wife but she told us that she had divorced him,” she said.

She added that Choi’s wife was the niece of a top politician and Choi had dropped the politician’s name on various occasions to lure investors.

Cheong said some of the partners were even made proxy members in the main company and Choi eventually removed his name from the company’s board of directors.

“This has gotten some of the partners into trouble because their names are linked to the company,” she said.
Theng said all the victims have lodged a police report and his bureau would assist them in lodging a report with Bank Negara.

“This is a get-rich-quick scheme and the public should not fall for any of these schemes which promises a high return in a short time. Some people have lost thousands of ringgit in this,” he said.

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