CALL them pyramid, Ponzi or get-rich-quick schemes and people might shy away. But call them money games, and suddenly they are just games, is that right?
What can be so diabolical about that?
Penang lang (people) are very much into money games. That’s what Ben, a Penangite who now lives in Australia, found out when he came back for a holiday three weeks ago.
Ben’s friends and relatives tried to rope him into money games. They themselves had “invested” in a few “games”.
He was astounded by their obsession. It does seem as if money games are on the minds of many Penangites now.
I hear about them at the coffee shops and watering holes. And yes, many of my buddies are into them too.
You will likely be the odd one out if you are not into such schemes these days.
JJPTR is a now household acronym after almost two years in the market. It stands for JJ Poor-to-Rich and the very name resonated well with middle-class families.
Its 20% monthly payouts were always on time, until the recent hacking job.
Then came Richway Global Venture, Change Your Life (CYL) and BTC I-system, but they too are said to be in troubled waters these days.
Attempts by many journalists to contact them have been unsuccessful.
The money game list is quite long, and Penang has the dubious honour of being the home base for many.
Another friend, Robert, had a jolt when a doctor he knew told patients to put their money into such a scheme. A doctor!
From the cleaners at his office to the hawkers and professionals he met, everyone, it seems, was convinced. None questioned how the high returns could come to fruition in such a short time.
But Robert is a harsh critic of these games and would not go anywhere near them. He didn’t believe in their economic “principles”.
He even got into a big fight with his father, who put money into JJPTR.
And now, Robert has been proven right. Fortunately, his father was one of the lucky ones because he managed to recoup his principal sum, on top of the thousands more he had received over the past few months.
Billy, a man well-versed in such operations, said operators would always use forex trading or investment in foreign projects as cover stories to woo new members.
They paint vivid pictures of those joining becoming part of big-time developments in Third World countries like Cambodia and Vietnam.
Once you get closer to them, they will tell you outright it is a money game and that you are among the pioneers, sure to make a profit before the scheme bursts.
Things tend to be smooth sailing for the first few months. You see money coming back in and pride yourself in taking the risk.
But soon the saturation point is reached as new members to the pyramid slow to a trickle.
Then you can expect the scheme to collapse.
Billy pointed out that the higher the return on investment, the faster the scheme bursts.
That’s because the operator cannot get enough new members to keep the scheme sustainable. At the same time, he has to deal with huge monthly payouts.
Some in Penang may remember the chance to invest in a cafe chain known as Island Red Cafe around 10 years ago. Then there was that company that sold gold bars and coins. There was also a Swiss cash scheme which took the country by storm.
As long as there is greed, such schemes will always re-emerge. As they say, a fool and his money are soon parted.
Honestly, the quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
‘Please bless the money game‘
GEORGE TOWN: Some investors are seeking “divine intervention” for money games to last.
A 10-second video clip of a man praying aloud before a temple shrine is fast circulating on social media and phone chat groups.
His prayer goes: “Datuk Gong (deity), I pray to you. Please bless money games. Please help them stay afloat for a few more months.”
His prayer is in Penang Hokkien and he mentions “money game” in English.
It is believed to be a satirical meme on money games, and there are several more spreading.
Memes on the Penang-based JJPTR, or Jie Jiu Pu Tong Ren in Mandarin (salvation for the common people), have also gone viral online.
One of them, titled “Life without JJ” in Chinese, is accompanied by a picture of a plate of plain rice topped with a few strands of fried vegetable.
Another similarly titled meme shows grubby, tattered underwear and is captioned: “Don’t ask me how my life is lately. The underwear explains everything!”
Meanwhile, a man known as Bingyen has cynically adapted the lyrics of a popular Mandarin song Zui Jin Bi Jiao Fan (Troubled Recently) to relate to JJPTR.
Interestingly, the Chinese name of JJPTR founder Johnson Lee rhymes with one of the song’s singers, veteran Taiwanese musician Jonathan Lee. Both their names are similar in pinyin – Li Zong Sheng.
Bingyen, in his lyrics, also advised the people to stay away from money games.
According to speculation online and media reports, JJPTR investors, said to number in the tens of thousands locally and internationally, including Canada, the United States and China, stand to lose RM500mil.
Lee, who has blamed the company’s losses on hackers, however, put the figure at US$400mil (RM1.75bil) in a widely-circulated video recording later.
The 28-year-old founder, in a video posted on the JJPTR Malaysia Facebook page last week, made a promise to repay its members by May 20. Also on the same day, the company is supposed to hold a dinner gathering at Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur.
The forex trading company, along with its associate entities JJ Poor to Rich and JJ Global Network under http://www.jjptr.com, is among the 288 entities and individuals listed on Bank Negara’s Financial Consumer Alert as of Feb 24.
Source: Pinang points by Tan Sin Chow