Too good to be true? Think twice


 

HAVE you ever grabbed an offer without any hesitation, simply because the price is too cheap to resist?

Many of us have this experience especially during sales or promotional campaigns. We tend to spend more at the end or buy things which we are uncertain of their quality when the deal seems too good to say no.

It may be harmless if the amount involved is insignificant. However, when we apply the same approach to big ticket items, it can cause vast implications.

Recently, I heard a case which reinforces this belief.

A friend shared that a property project which was selling for RM300,000 a few years ago is now stuck. Although the whole project was sold out, the developer has problem delivering the units on time.

The developer is calling all purchasers to renegotiate the liquidated and ascertained damages (LAD), a compensation for late delivery.

One of the homeowners said he is owed RM50,000 of LAD, which means the project is 1½ years late. When we chatted, we found that he purchased the unit solely due to its cheap pricing without doing much research in the first place.

The incident is a real-life example of paying too low for an item which can leave us as losers, especially when it involves huge sum of investment, such as property.

To many, buying a house maybe a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a decision made can make or break the happiness of a family.

A good decision ensures a roof over the head and a great living environment, while an imprudent move may incur long-term financial woes if the house is left uncompleted.

Nowadays, it is common to see people do research when they plan to buy a phone, household item, or other smaller ticket items.

Looking at the amount involved and implication of buying a house, we should apply the same discretion if not more.

It is always important for house buyers to study the background of a developer and project, consult experienced homeowners regarding the good and bad of a project before committing.

I have seen many people buy a house merely based on price consideration.

In fact, there are more to be deliberated when we commit for a roof over our heads. The location, project type, reputation of a developer, the workmanship, the future maintenance of the property etc, are all important factors for a good decision as they would affect the future value of a project.

Beware when a discount or a rebate sounds too good to be true, it may be just too good to be true and never materialised. If the collection or revenue of a housing project is not sufficient to fund the building cost, the developer may not be able to complete the project or deliver the house as per promised terms. At the end of the day, the “price” paid by homeowners would be far more expensive.

In general, the same principle applies elsewhere. It is a known fact that when we pay a premium for a quality product from a reliable producer, we have a peace of mind that the product could last longer and end up saving us money. Some lucky ones will end up gaining much more.

For instance, when we purchase a car, we should consider its resale value as some cars hold up well, while others collapse after a short period. Other determining factors include the specifications of the car, the after sales service, and the availability of spare parts.

Quality products always come with a higher price tag due to the research, effort, materials and services involved.

In addition to buying a house or big ticket items, other incidents that can tantamount to losing huge sums are like money games, get-rich-quick scheme, or the purchase of stolen cars or houses with caveats.

When an offer or a rebate sounds dodgy, the “good deal” can be a scam.

Years of experience tells me that when what is too good to be true, we should think twice. I always remind myself with a quote from John Ruskin (1819-1900) who was an art critic, an artist, an architect and a philosopher. “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

“The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

Food for thought by Alan Tong

Datuk Alan Tong has over 50 years of experience in property development. He was the world president of FIABCI International for 2005/2006 and awarded the Property Man of the Year 2010 at FIABCI Malaysia Property Award. He is also the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email feedback@fiabci-asiapacific.com.

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Penang properties: security for homeseekers, location for foreigners, increased value for investors


 

Security ranks high for the homeseekers

GEORGE TOWN: Security is a key feature sought after by property buyers at the StarProperty.my Fair 2017 at Gurney Plaza and Gurney Paragon Mall here.

Eco World Development Group Berhad (EcoWorld) sales executive Andre Lim Han Lin said potential buyers approached the company due to the security features of its projects.

“We stress a lot on security in our projects. Take for example the Eco Meadows gated and guarded mixed development project in Simpang Ampat on the Penang mainland.

“Each housing unit comes with intercom system and alarm system to provide enhanced safety for our customers.

“In cases of emergency, homeowners can contact our well-trained security guards for assistance,” he said at the fair yesterday.

Hunza Properties (Penang) Sdn Bhd head of sales and marketing Karen Thein said the company’s Alila2 project in Tanjung Bungah comes with a top-notch security system to ensure the safety and security of its homebuyers.

“We have layers of security from the guardhouse, to the car park, lobby area and to the home unit.

“The project is equipped with security tags, access card control system and CCTVs,” she added.

She said Alila2 was also equipped with smart home panel that allows owners to view their visitors who are at the lobby.

“Owners can open the door to the lifts at the lobby from their home after confirming the identity of the visitors through the smart panel.

“Aside from that, each unit is equipped with a panic button for owners to alert the security guards during emergencies,” she said.

BDB Land Sdn Bhd sales executive Mohd Zaidi Md Jasmin said potential clients who came to their booths were also concerned about security.

“Security is one of the important factors we stressed in our Darulaman Perdana township in Sungai Petani.

“The project is a guarded community, crafted to meet the needs of those who seek comfort and safety in their homes.

“We have our security guards patrolling our project to ensure safety at all times.

“Besides safety, we are also into building a healthy and environmental-friendly community,” he said.

The StarProperty.my Fair 2017, organised by the Star Media Group, is open from 10am to 10pm daily until Sunday.. Admission is free.

By Christopher Tan The Star

Foreigners eyeing Penang properties

FOREIGNERS were among the early birds who visited the StarProperty.my Fair 2017 in Penang on its first day, looking for properties to invest in.

Couple Wallace Ng and Minnie Yip, both 50, from Hong Kong, said they were looking for a property with sea view and good facilities to invest in.

“Good location will be an added value to the property,” Ng said while checking the City Residence project in Tanjung Tokong by Ivory Properties Group Bhd at the fair yesterday.

Another couple from Shanghai, Liu Jun and Hua Wen Xin, both 49, were checking out Ewein Zenith’s City Of Dreams project in Gurney Drive.

“We are interested in having a property at a bay on Penang island. It would be a good investment for us. Location plays an important role,” Liu said.

New Zealander Brad Harman, 31, echoed similar sentiments, saying suitable location would be his first preference while looking for property in Penang.

“I understand that investing in the property market in Penang is profitable as it’s growing rapidly. This may be a good time to look for one but it will be a better choice when it has a good location too,” he said.

Henry Teoh, 29, and his girlfriend Jesslyn Tan, 24, both insurance agents from Penang who are searching for a second property in the state, said they were looking for a landed home since their first property is a high-rise.

“We prefer to have the house on the island as we think that the land value on the island is higher and it will be a good investment too,” Teoh said while checking the properties offered by IJM Land Bhd.

Sales and marketing executive Marie Kam, 37, who was eyeing Sentral Suites by Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) in Kuala Lumpur Sentral, said the development attracted her due to its location.

“KL Sentral is a prime location in Kuala Lumpur,” she said.

At The Star’s booth in Gurney Plaza, retiree Ho Kam Hoong signed up for a one-year standalone ePaper subscription for RM180.

“I prefer The Star ePaper since it is more convenient as I can surf the news from anywhere.

“I like the lifestyle, social event and sports sections,” said Ho who received a complimentary RM20 Starbucks card, three free spins in the fair’s Spin & Win Contest and two additional months of free ePaper for signing up for the package.

More than RM50,000 worth of prizes are up for grabs in the Spin & Win Contest during the four day fair which is being held at Gurney Plaza and Gurney Paragon Mall.

The fair also offers visitors the opportunity to win a one-bedroom serviced suite worth over RM550,000 at PJ Midtown in Section 13 of Petaling Jaya, Selangor, under the Win A Home (WAH) campaign.

Simply like and follow the StarProperty.my Fair Facebook page, then register online at wah.starproperty.my or at the WAH booth in Gurney Paragon Mall, to get one entry.

Finally, complete a creative slogan in English.

Those who buy properties during this and all subsequent StarProperty.my Fairs until Dec 31 will be entitled to multiple entries.

Visit http://fair.starproperty.my for details and the terms and conditions.

The public could also sign up for the Penang Starwalk 2017 on Sept 10 and Fit For Life Fun Run on Nov 19 during the fair at The Star booth in Gurney Paragon.

The fair, organised by the Star Media Group, is open daily from 10am to 10pm until Sunday. Admission is free.

RM78,000 house four decades ago now priced close to RM1mil

PROPERTIES are a hedge against inflation as their value increases with time, said full-time property investor Kaygarn Tan.

Citing a single-storey house in Island Glades in Penang as example, he said the price doubled from RM78,000 in 1977 to RM158,000 in 1988.

“In 2015, it was priced at RM900,000,” Tan said in his talk titled ‘Creating Wealth Through Property Investment’.

He described the current property market as soft where purchasers hold much of the power in negotiations.

“This sentiment is shared by many business analysts and experts. It is now the buyer’s market.

“The people should grab the opportunity as sellers will be more flexible in their pricing,” he added.

Lawyer Khaw Veon Szu, in his talk titled ‘A Landmine-free Roadmap to Property Ownership/Investment’, said buying a property was arguably the biggest investment for ordinary people.

He advised buyers to equip themselves with basic knowledge of property purchasing and trust nobody.

“They should exercise due diligence, especially on the background of lawyers or real estate consultants before they engage their services,” he said.

In another talk, feng shui master Stephen Chin provided feng shui tips on selecting the right home.

The property education talks were brought to the fair by BDB Land.

Source: The Star/ANN

Educating the young urbanites

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GEORGE TOWN: Well-known developer BDB Land Sdn Bhd has launched its Property Education campaign at the StarProperty.my Fair 2017 organised by Star Media Group, in Penang.

Aimed at providing valuable insights into home ownership for the public, it includes informative talks at the four-day fair which ends today.

There will also be radio segments on 988 and Suria at prime time daily starting Aug 2, and digital content on The Star Online, to reach out to a broader audience.

The radio segments encompass topics like current property trends, upcoming developments, sub-sales market information, property investment, legal aspects, first-time buyer tips, foreign property news and more.

For the digital segment, there will be videos on various aspects of property ownership.

First-time buyers should benefit from the buying guide 101 that includes budget planning, things to prepare for, payment procedures and renovation costs, among others.

For experienced home buyers, there are also topics to look out for, such as refinancing a property, selling a property without making losses, who to approach if defects are found with the property, questions to ask the developer, and the importance of real estate management.

Izham presenting a momento to bin Yusoff, June Wong, Chief Content Officer of Star Media Group and her colleagues in Penang.
Izham presenting a memento to Wong. With them are Liong and Hwang.

BDB Group managing director and the BDB Land Sdn Bhd executive director Datuk Izham Yusoff said the campaign was in line with their EZY Home programme for young urbanites.

“Our track record of successfully delivering homes in self-sustaining townships in Kedah for over 30 years puts us in good position to give advice.>

“This reflects our long-standing commitment to help individuals own a home,” he said after the launch which started with an ice-breaking session by Suria Cruisers who engaged visitors in games and a quiz.

Also present were the company’s sales and marketing head Anneta Hassan, marketing and product development head Fadzil Amidi Ahmad and sales head Mohd Shukry Shuaib.

Joining them were Star Media Group Content Development chief operating officer June Wong and regional operations general manager (north) Simone Liong, as well as Star Media Radio Group general manager of sales Erin Hwang.

The public forums, themed “Let’s Talk Property”, continue today with sessions on “Attacting Wealth by Applying Vasthu Sastra (Indian Feng Shui)” at 11.30am by T. Selva, and “How Incredible i-Ching Helps Boost Prosperity in Your Home Fengshui” at 1.30pm by Mak Foo Wengg.

Popular with the masses: Visitors checking out The Light City project at the IJM Land’s booth during the StarProperty.my Fair 2017 at Gurney Plaza, Penang.

Completing the line up are talks on “5 Trends That Will Change the Malaysian Property Market Forever” at 4pm by Ahyat Ishak, and Penang Property Outlook at 5.30pm by Leon Lee.

The StarProperty.my Fair 2017 is organised by Star Media Group.

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Invest in the future



IT has always interested me to see how the different selection of words sent varied messages to readers and listeners.

Of late, I’m intrigued with the use of oxymorons, a combination of words that have opposite meanings and which usually produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect.

Some daily expressions such as “open secret”, “seriously funny”, “deafening silence” and “pretty ugly”, are good examples on how the completely opposite meanings of words create dramatic effect.

Among other oxymorons come an expression often heard among condominium owners to their management corporations (MCs) and management offices: “We want you to lower costs and improve quality.”

Just like any other oxymoron phrases, the statement above makes me puzzle and ponder. It is prudent to manage costs, but unrealistic cost cutting over the long run will lead to decline in the quality of facilities and services.

Based on my experience, quality always comes with cost especially in property management. It is impossible to achieve higher quality standards by reducing expenditure.

I have heard of occasions where homeowners’ representatives in MC set high benchmark for the property management team, but expect them to cut down on the number of workers and cleaners in order to reduce spending. Needless to say, we can imagine what the outcome would be without looking at the property itself.

In reality, MC and homeowners must invest, not spend less for better quality. While developers and property managers play the important role of ensuring the upkeep of properties, the property owners themselves are the main stakeholders in deciding the fate of their properties. They are the party who can approve the budget and usage of their service charge and sinking funds.

In my previous article, I mentioned it is important for homeowners to participate in property management, such as attending AGMs and EGMs to exercise their right to raise concerns and approve the budget during such meetings.

In addition, homeowners and MCs must be bold in making decisions to invest in their properties with the reserved funds they have in their account.

Hence, while it is important to manage cost, it is also important to spend wisely for the future. Inflation is a fact of life, so MCs and homeowners should factor the inflation rate into their service charges, and use the real inflation rate, typically higher than the officially sanctioned rate anywhere in the world.

Typically, service charge is used for the general maintenance of the building. Sinking fund, on the other hand, can be used for the painting and the repainting of the common property, acquisition of movable property, the replacement of any fixture or fitting, the upgrading and refurbishment of the common property, and any other capital expenditure deemed necessary.

Managing a strata property is like maintaining a car. We must service our car regularly and replace its parts when they are due for change according to mileage. If a car is serviced less often, it gets more expensive to fix later when the equipment falls apart, and sometimes it may be too late to change.

Hence, when we reduce spending on maintaining a property, the decline of quality may be slow but sure. It takes time and additional cost when homeowners want to re-invest to restore the property later.

Invest in the future is just like doing exercise. It is hard to do, but if done regularly it will build health, strength and happiness.

To invest in a strata property means to increase, not cut down services such as cleaning, maintenance, security and landscaping. It also means to spend the sinking fund regularly not just on replacements, but also on upgrades, as the world doesn’t stand still. New projects would make existing projects old and even obsolete if we don’t manage our property well.

Investor’s nightmare

How well a property is managed can make or break the value of the property. A quality property management will allow the value to increase; while poor management could translate into an investor’s nightmare.

Active management and upgrading of properties is an important approach to protect our homes and investments. As such, whenever homeowners or property management companies tell me they are able to increase quality and cut cost at the same time, I would wonder whether, “Is this a short-term gain at the detriment of long-term benefits?”

By Alan Tong

Datuk Alan Tong was the world president of FIABCI International for 2005/2006 and awarded the Property Man of the Year 2010 at FIABCI Malaysia Property Award. He is also the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email feedback@fiabci-asiapacific.com.

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Money game scourge


Easier option: Poor experience with regulated investment product providers may be the reason for investors to go for ‘alternative’

Poor wealth management experiences fuel money games

OVER the past 2 months, it was virtually impossible to pick up any newspaper and not read reports about the money game phenomenon that has taken the media by storm.

It is as if the Pandora’s Box had been suddenly flung open by the exposé of JJPTR, leading to other similar schemes coming to light.

The victim profile ranges from white-collared professionals and savvy businessmen to senior citizens and housewives. It would appear as if just about anyone from different walks of life could be susceptible to these money schemes.

It is easy for observers and bystanders to pin the blame on the investors for getting themselves in a sticky situation. After all, if we apply the caveat emptor (buyer beware) principle to other types of goods and services, the investors should have clearly known the risks of subscribing to these money games and therefore should have been aware of the possibility of losing their investments.

So, what caused groups of people to lose their common sense when it comes to money games?

Scams come in many shapes, sizes and forms but look closely and you will see that they all have many things in common in terms of the modus operandi and the people they seem to attract. From JJPTR and MBI International right at our doorstep to China’s Nanning investment scheme and the most notorious Ponzi scheme of all times – the Madoff scandal, all these scams preyed on innate human weaknesses and appealed to investors’ desire to grow their wealth.

Many would be quick to label these investors as greedy or gullible, but I beg to differ. I see nothing wrong with wanting to achieve financial freedom and get higher investment returns. The people who invested and lost in these scams are not multi-millionaires with ample financial resources. They are average Malaysians who have worked hard and saved their money for a rainy day, only to see their nest egg disappear into thin air. What drove them to place the precious results of their blood, sweat and tears into unregulated investment schemes?

I am convinced that the reason stems from the investors’ poor experience with regulated investment product providers.

The so-called ‘push’ factor

There is a mismatch of what consumers need and what financial institutions are trying to sell. Consumers want guidance on how to use regulated investments as a means to grow their wealth with high certainty and achieve financial freedom.

The general public sees banks as an easy, accessible channel to obtain advice on personal finance and investment matters via wealth management services. There is no issue with legitimacy as the array of financial products and services available through banks are duly approved by the regulatory authorities.

The problem arises when investors are not getting what they need, which is advisory support, from their current wealth management providers. More often than not, investors feel overwhelmed by the choices available in the market. Worse still, investors do not know what action to take when their investments lose money. It is not uncommon to find that the wealth management providers are very attentive and proactive in recommending options; but once the sales is concluded, the investor is basically left to his or her own devices.

As a result of the lack of hand-holding or after-sales service, some investors may find that rather than growing money, they end up losing 20%-30% of their capital. The sheer irony of it is that because of the experience of losing money, they now perceive regulated investments as highly volatile and uncertain, and ultimately lose faith. I have personally encountered clients who harbour such misgivings about unit trusts, that they would bluntly tell me right from the initial meeting, not to propose such options to them.

I realised then the extent to which poor experiences with wealth management providers can lead to misplaced biases against certain investment vehicles even though investors could benefit from the right ones. When disillusioned investors turn their heads elsewhere, this is when they discover “alternative” investment options. And many end up falling for money games because they are sold on the idea of fixed return investments perceived to be low risk, coupled with the promise of better returns.

In this instance, the “push” factor, i.e. the unmet financial needs of consumers, which contributed to investors subscribing to shady schemes, has equal bearing to the “pull” factor (attraction) of these money scams.

“I am like any other man. All I do is supply a demand.” – Al Capone, American mobster

As with most goods and services that are detrimental to our well-being (e.g. junk food, cigarettes, gambling, etc), it is consumers’ demand for them that drives their industry and makes them thrive. Without customers, these shady businesses would naturally die off.

The ability of the money games to proliferate boils down to the “smart” business acumen of the operators to “fill the gap” so to speak. By offering an alternative investment scheme at a time when the market is slow and when many investors are experiencing losses, these money games are seen as a sudden golden ticket towards becoming rich. However, as we have seen, the golden ticket eventually loses its shine and the investors are left holding nothing but a worthless scrap of paper.

Therefore, there would be fewer victims of money games if the wealth management industry as a whole were to step up and reinvent themselves into a genuine one-stop financial centre to help their clients address all financial and investment issues at various points of their lives.

When the grass on one side is always greener, the rest will not matter

In order to ensure that they are seen by clients as the “go-to” person for all financial and investment related concerns, wealth management providers will need to exceed expectations and to a certain degree, over-deliver on their current role.

Wealth managers could assist clients to evaluate various investment proposals to determine its suitability and guide clients to use regulated investment vehicles to invest in various asset classes such as equities, bonds, REITs and foreign investments to grow their money effectively. They could also play the role of a financial bodyguard to help investors fend off scams and illegitimate investments.

In an ideal world, wealth managers will set aside sufficient time and effort to understand the client’s financial position in a holistic manner. They will prepare a tailored and dynamic plan with milestones and checkpoints to help monitor and review progress.

To my peers in the wealth management industry, I would say, cut the lip service and let’s get serious about managing and growing wealth for our clients.

When more and more investors realise that they are able to count on their wealth management providers for all the required support they need to achieve their financial end game, then money games will no longer have room to take root.

Money & You Yap Ming Hui

Yap Ming Hui (ymh@whitman.com.my) is a bestselling author, TV personality, columnist, coach and host of Yap’s Money Live Show online. He feels that the financial world is getting too complicated for everyone, and initiated a weekly online show to address the issues.For more information, please visit his website at www.whitman.com.my
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Malaysian authorities crack down on virtual money operator, MBI Group International


Smooth operation: Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry enforcement director Datuk Mohd Roslan Mahayudin (centre) giving a press conference on the raids which yielded luxury vehicles and cash. Despite the crackdown by the authorities, investors continue to patronise M Mall, which is operated by MBI.

 

Dawn raids on MBI

 

Key member of MBI Group International remanded 98 bank accounts containing RM209mil frozen to date Three luxury cars and cash seized

The virtual money scheme operator was hit by three early morning raids in Penang and Kedah as a multi-agency task force acted on intelligence gathered in its ongoing anti-pyramid scheme probe. Investors say they regard this development as a temporary matter, while the public has been urged to come forward and help in the investigation. GEORGE TOWN: After watching the premises closely for a month, the authorities sprang into action and arrested a key person in virtual money scheme operator MBI Group International.

Four bank accounts of a newly- established company that belonged to the suspect’s relative, with deposits totalling RM30mil, were also frozen, while luxury cars and cash were seized in raids on three premises in Penang and Kedah carried out early on Monday morning.

Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry enforcement chief Datuk Mohd Roslan Mahayudin said the suspect, in his 50s, is believed to be the founder of the group.

“He has been remanded for four days since Monday for investigation under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001,” he said.

Speaking to reporters at the Bank Negara Malaysia office here, Mohd Roslan said the operation, codenamed Ops Token II, was staged because the premises were believed to be involved in a pyramid scheme.

“They were believed to be the cash storage transit before the money is transferred to other accounts for the purpose of the scheme’s activities,” he said.

Two of the premises were in Taman MBI Desaku in Kulim, Kedah, and one in Sungai Dua on mainland Penang.

Ops Token II was a follow-up to Ops Token I, which was carried out against Mface Club in Klang Valley and M Mall, Penang, on May 29.

Ops Token II was conducted by the National Revenue Recovery Enforcement Team, which comprises the ministry, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, police, Customs, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Inland Revenue Board, Bank Negara, Companies Commission of Malaysia and the Immigration Department.

Mohd Roslan said the team had been monitoring the premises with the assistance of police for a month prior to the operation.

Three luxury vehicles – a Jaguar, a Range Rover and a Toyota Vellfire – and cash totalling RM2.235mil were seized during the raids, Mohd Roslan said.

The team confiscated RM280,000 from the site in Sungai Dua, and RM187,612 cash and RM218,000 worth of foreign notes from one of the Kedah locations. Nothing was seized from the third location.

The foreign currencies seized were Singapore dollars, US dollars, Thai baht, Australian dollars, Chinese yuan, New Zealand dollars, Indonesian rupiah, Korean won, Japanese yen, Hong Kong dollars, Taiwan dollars, Laotian kip and Cambodian riel, he added.

Mohd Roslan said with the latest series of raids, the number of local bank accounts frozen over the investigation into the group totalled 98, with combined funds of RM209mil.

The bank accounts included 49 company accounts and 49 individual accounts.

Mohd Roslan stressed that the authorities would continue investigating the group and all its subsidiary companies.

While no investors have lodged reports against the group so far, Mohd Roslan urged investors to step forward to assist in the investigation.

The authorities have not estimated the amount of losses suffered by the investors or the public, he added.

Under the Act, the suspect faces a jail term of up to 15 years and a fine of five times the amount or RM5mil, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

The bank accounts, meanwhile, could be frozen for up to 90 days, while the authorities could investigate the matter for a year, Mohd Roslan added.

Authorities crack down on MBI

Key person held, luxury cars seized and accounts frozen

 

GEORGE TOWN: After watching the premises closely for a month, the authorities sprang into action and arrested a key person in virtual money scheme operator MBI Group International.

Four bank accounts of a newly-established company that belonged to the suspect’s relative, with deposits totalling RM30mil, were also frozen, while luxury cars and cash were seized in raids on three premises in Penang and Kedah carried out early on Monday morning.

Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry enforcement chief Datuk Mohd Roslan Mahayudin said the suspect, in his 50s, is believed to be the founder of the group.

“He has been remanded for four days since Monday for investigation under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001,” he said.

Speaking to reporters at the Bank Negara Malaysia office here, Mohd Roslan said the operation, codenamed Ops Token II, was staged because the premises were believed to be involved in a pyramid scheme.

“They were believed to be the cash storage transit before the money is transferred to other accounts for the purpose of the scheme’s activities,” he said.

Two of the premises were in Taman MBI Desaku in Kulim, Kedah, and one in Sungai Dua on mainland Penang.

Ops Token II was a follow-up to Ops Token I, which was carried out against Mface Club in Klang Valley and M Mall, Penang, on May 29.

Ops Token II was conducted by the National Revenue Recovery Enforcement Team, which comprises the ministry, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, police, Cus­toms, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Inland Revenue Board, Bank Negara, Companies Commission of Malaysia and the Immigration Department.

Mohd Roslan said the team had been monitoring the premises with the assistance of police for a month prior to the operation.

Three luxury vehicles – a Jaguar, a Range Rover and a Toyota Vellfire – and cash totalling RM2.235mil were seized during the raids, Mohd Roslan said.

The team confiscated RM280,000 from the site in Sungai Dua, and RM187,612 cash and RM218,000 worth of foreign notes from one of the Kedah locations. Nothing was seized from the third location.

The foreign currencies seized were Singapore dollars, US dollars, Thai baht, Australian dollars, Chinese yuan, New Zealand dollars, Indonesian rupiah, Korean won, Japanese yen, Hong Kong dollars, Taiwan dollars, Laotian kip and Cambodian riel, he added.

Mohd Roslan said with the latest series of raids, the number of local bank accounts frozen over the investigation into the group totalled 98, with combined funds of RM209mil.

The bank accounts included 49 company accounts and 49 individual accounts.

Mohd Roslan stressed that the authorities would continue investigating the group and all its subsidiary companies.

While no investors have lodged reports against the group so far, Mohd Roslan urged investors to step forward to assist in the investigation.

The authorities have not estimated the amount of losses suffered by the investors or the public, he added.

Under the Act, the suspect faces a jail term of up to 15 years and a fine of five times the amount or RM5mil, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

The bank accounts, meanwhile, could be frozen for up to 90 days, while the authorities could investigate the matter for a year, Mohd Roslan added.

Source: The Star by christopher tanandarnold loh

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Two virtual coin get-rich schemes red-flagged by Malaysian Central Bank


GEORGE TOWN: Two more popular financial schemes in Penang have been red-flagged by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).

A check on the financial consumer alert list yesterday showed MBI International Sdn Bhd and Mface International Sdn Bhd to be the latest additions.

Both are subsidiaries of MBI Group International, a company with investors worldwide, many of them from China.

To date, 302 companies have been listed under the BNM financial consumer alert list, for suspicion of not adhering to relevant laws and regulations administered by BNM in their operations.

Under the Financial Services Act 2013, individuals or businesses involved in illegal financial activities can be fined up to RM50mil and jailed for 10 years.

When contacted by a Chinese daily, MBI International chairman Tedy Teow’s special assistant Alfa said he did not think that the company would face any problem.

“And it is unnecessary for us to hold a press conference to explain the situation to our investors.

“We are always doing our work and we believe that our investors can see how we are performing so far,” he told Sin Chew Daily.

An investor, H.L. Teoh, said he put in RM22,500 early this year and was given 10,000 game redemption credits.

“Actually, I can start selling it every six months, but I was advised to wait for it to grow bigger in three years.

“When you have lots of credit, it is like having a lot of virtual shares.

“Now, I will have to wait for further instructions from the company before my next course of action,” he said.

Members are allowed to spend their loyalty points, which are converted from virtual money or coins, in exchange for goods and services at affiliated companies, including a supermarket, restaurants, a gym and even a durian stall.

Meanwhile, a press conference called by a branch representative of another controversial financial scheme operator, JJPTR, was cancelled at the last minute.

Press members in Penang had received an invitation from a man known only as Lim at 8.30am yesterday.

However, no reason was given for the cancellation.

JJPTR has been grabbing headlines in the past few weeks since its founder Johnson Lee claimed that the company had lost US$400mil (RM1.738bil) due to a purported “hacking job”.

Lee and two of his top aides have been detained by the police to facilitate investigations following several police reports lodged against JJPTR.

In another case, 19 Chinese nationals lodged police reports in Kuala Lumpur against another multi-level marketing company, claiming that they had lost hundreds of thousands of ringgit.

They claimed to have lost between 100,000 yuan (RM62,536) and 700,000 yuan (RM437,754) since investing in the scheme by Monspace last year.

Founded in 2014, Monspace is listed as a multi-level marketing company, according to the Com­panies Commission of Malaysia.

In an immediate response, Monspace said it would take legal action against any group or individual making defamatory statements against it.

The company said in a statement to the media that it was functioning professionally and had engaged a law firm to keep track of statements made about it.

Source: The Star/ANN by Crystal Chiam Shiying

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Angry & frustrated investors lodged report, tell off staffs trying to buy time!


Angry investors who lodged a police report at the Pekan Kinrara station. Waiting for answers:

His first investment scheme failed with losses estimated at between RM400mil and RM1.7bil but JJPTR founder Johnson Lee has brazenly come up with a new one offering even higher returns of 35% a month and with a car, motorcycles and smartphones thrown in as lucky draw prizes. Many of his investors still have faith in him but those in another scheme, Change Your Life, are in a quandary. They now have to choose between getting lower returns or changing to ‘life points’ – and waiting.

Show me the money: Investors making enquiries at Icon City in Bukit Tengah, Bukit Mertajam. The money scam issue has got many who have parted with their savings feeling anxious

 

JJPTR offers ‘better’ plan

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5418686139001

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/05/03/jjptr-offers-better-plan-founder-promises-higher-returns-but-stays-mum-on-refunds/

After the spectacular collapse of his previous financial scheme, purportedly because of a hacked account, controversial scheme operator Johnson Lee has rolled out a new plan, claiming to offer even better returns.

While JJPTR’s earlier scheme – which ended with RM500mil missing from the company’s account – offered returns of 20% a month, this new one offers 35%.

On top of that, it offers special lucky draws with a new car, motorcycles and smartphones as prizes.

What the company did not say in the shining glossary of the new plan is how Lee plans to address the US$400mil (RM1.73bil) losses he claims the company has incurred.

The new scheme also does not explain how he plans to repay those who lost their money to the earlier scheme.

The one-and-a-half minute video Lee uploaded shows that the new plan is based on a “split mechanism” and has three rounds.

The initial investment in US dollars is “split” or doubled in each round. Half of it is re-invested in the scheme and rolls over to the next round.

Each round lasts 10 days and investors are allowed to convert their earnings back to ringgit after three rounds.

Anyone who invests US$1,000 (RM4,331) is expected to receive US$450 (RM1,949) in each round, making it a return of US$1,350 (RM5,847) by the end of round three.

Under the proposed new scheme, investors will also be rewarded with JJ Points, which can be used in exchange for goods via its shopping platform JJ Mart.

The new scheme was announced by the 28-year-old Lee last Tuesday after news broke that his company had gone bust.

The company did not say when the new plan would start.

Attempts to contact Lee were futile and the number listed on the JJPTR Facebook page is already out of service.

A visit to the company’s offices in Penang showed that investors were no longer lining up for answers.

Instead, the staff, who preferred not to be photographed, were seen sitting at empty counters.

Penang-based JJPTR, or Jie Jiu Pu Tong Ren in Mandarin (salvation for the common people), came under the spotlight when investors complained that they did not get their scheduled payment last month.

JJPTR, JJ Poor to Rich and JJ Global Network are among the entities listed as unauthorised companies under Bank Negara Malaysia’s Financial Consumer Alert.

Records from the Companies Commission of Malaysia showed that JJ Global Network was a “RM2 company” owned by Lee and his former girlfriend Tan Kai Lee, 24. Each hold a single share.

Lee’s father Thean Chye, 58, and Tan are also directors of another company called JJ Global Network Holdings Bhd.

Thean Chye, who was an assistant professor at Southern University College in Johor, resigned on Wednesday after the JJPTR losses came to light.

Source: The Star/ANN

Investor tells off staff after failing to get refund 

 

Business as usual: Employees explaining the refund process and new scheme to investors at the JJPTR main office in Perak Road, Penang.

GEORGE TOWN: An investor, frustrated over not getting a promised refund on his stake, told off several female employees at the main JJPTR office in Perak Road.

The man, in his 40s, was heard having an exchange of words with the staff after being told that it may take “a few more days” before he could get his money.

He told them Johnson Lee, the founder of JJPTR, had said that the money was refunded to JJ2 scheme investors some days ago.

“But until today, I haven’t got my money back.

“I just want to know if the refund has been made or are you in the midst of processing the refund?

“If he has not started the refund, just be honest with the investors.”

He insisted on getting a firm date on when he would get back his money but the employees replied that they would need at least five working days.

He then demanded their names but they refused him.

“You don’t even dare give me your names. If I want to lodge a report, I won’t be able to provide the police with details.

“And don’t tell me you need days for a bank transfer. It only takes hours,” he said.

As he left the office, several journalists approached him for comment but were turned down.

“I don’t want to talk to reporters. You are all just causing trouble for us. I can get things done on my own,” he said.

JJPTR, or Jie Jiu Pu Tong Ren (“salvation for the common people” in Mandarin), is a Penang-based company that came under the spotlight when its investors complained that they did not get their scheduled profits last month.

According to online and media reports, the investors stand to lose RM500mil. They reportedly number in the tens of thousands, comprising Malaysians and foreigners from Canada, the United States and China.

Lee, who has blamed the loss on hackers, put the figure at US$400mil (RM1.75bil) in a widely-circulated video clip.

JJPTR, JJ Poor to Rich and JJ Global Network are listed as unauthorised companies by Bank Negara Malay­sia.

Source: The Star/ANN

JJPTR just trying to buy time, says ‘scam buster’ 

 

“Scam buster” Afyan Mat Rawi has ridiculed JJPTR’s new plan, calling it “unsustainable” and nothing but a forex scheme to placate angry investors.

Once a victim of an investment scam himself, the 37-year-old financial adviser said investors should stay away from the scheme, which he described as “illogical”.

“The investors are angry right now, and JJPTR is trying to pacify them by introducing this new plan.

“A 35% return at the end of the three rounds (one month) is illogical. Where would the company find all the money to reinvest?

“The new plan is just a way for them to buy time,” Afyan said.

He said any investment scheme promising returns of more than 15% in a year will ultimately collapse.

“No legitimate scheme will guarantee an annual return of more than 15%. Any scheme claiming to do otherwise has to be a scam.

“Like most other pyramid schemes, the (JJPTR) forex scheme will collapse when there is no entry of new investors.”

Afyan said that despite getting flak from investors after allegedly losing RM500mil due to its accounts being hacked, it was still “possible” for JJPTR to entice old and new investors to subscribe to the new plan, which promises higher returns and special lucky draws.

“Some investors may leave, because they no longer see hope but those in the “top tier” will continue finding new victims as they’ve already invested so much.

“Unfortunately, there will still be people who believe in them,” he related.

Commenting on a video of founder Johnson Lee announcing the new plan via JJPTR Malaysia’s Facebook page, Afyan said the laws in Malaysia were not harsh enough to serve as deterrent for so-called “scammers”.

He claimed that the only person to have been severely punished for operating an illegal investment scheme was Pak Man Telo, or Othman Hamzah, who was jailed and banished to Terengganu from Perak in the early 1990s.

Othman reportedly enticed 50,000 people to invest in his getrich-quick scheme, commonly known as the Pak Man Telo scheme, and managed to rake in RM90mil before being arrested, tried and sent to prison for two years. He died in Terengganu a few years later.

Ever since then, Afyan claimed, convicted scammers have been getting away easy.

“At most, scammers will be arrested and remanded. But you don’t hear about them serving time in prison. They’ve already made millions, billions, in profits.

“A penalty of a few thousand ringgit is nothing to them,” he said.

Afyan, who lost RM300 to a getrich-quick scheme while he was a university student in 2003, worked in Islamic insurance and financial planning after graduating.

He created a Facebook page in 2008 to share information on questionable investment opportunities, earning him the nickname “scam buster”.

He claims to have uncovered about 50 dubious companies so far.

Source: The Star/ANN

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