Friday, October 09, 2009

Man badly burnt by Sunshine Empire scam....

A taxi driver invested $81K in Sunshine Empire and lost most of it. Sunshine Empire collected a total of $180M from Singaporeans and operated for about a year before the authorities stepped in:

a. With a large segment of the population not financially literate, can we afford a 'light-touch' 'buyer beware' approach?

b. Why did the authorities take so long? Is it time the CAD takes a more proactive approach when it comes to such unregulated investment schemes?

How did so many ordinary Singaporeans get cheated by Sunshine Empire? Slick marketing.....watch this:


The man behind Sunshine Empire, James Phang, has a dubious record of operating various scams. One of them involved investing in a resort in Batam known as Magic Kingdom. Investors who lost money approached Case and local authorities but were told nothing can be done about because the scheme was run from Indonesia[Link].

---BT Article----------------------------------
Link

He mortgaged his house to invest in Sunshine Empire

In 2007, Singaporean bus driver Vincent Leo Teng Fong mortgaged his property in Malaysia for about RM200,000 ($81,980) and invested the money in more than 10 Sunshine Empire Gold Prime packages.

As reported in Shin Min Daily, he only received one rebate of RM26,000 from the company after his initial investment. The New Paper reported that he even introduced the company to his mother.

Vincent Leo testified in court on Oct 7 that he got to know about Sunshine Empire through a friend named Sze Li.

She told him that the company had attractive packages with high rates of return. Sze Li and her husband, Mr Jacky Neo, said that if he bought the most expensive Gold Prime package, he could get rebates of US$700 ($981.19) to US$800 every month, and he will recoup his investment in 10 months.

They also offered him a "buy eight get one free" promotion which they claimed would allow him to "break even" in six months and earn him an additional $60,000 bonus in two years.

A few days after meeting the couple, he was invited to Sunshine Empire's office at the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh for a briefing. At the briefing, Jacky Neo told Vincent Leo that Sunshine Empire was not just a multi-level marketing company.

He said that it was developing theme parks in Malacca and Cebu, and was setting up a radio relay station in Taiwan on top of owning a number of franchises and that the high returns were generated from investments and businesses like these.

Mr Jacky Neo even bought him his first package - a Silver Merchant package. He told Vincent that he didn't have to pay as long as he brought friends up.

The briefing convinced Vincent Leo to buy 10 packages between July and October 2007. According to The New Paper, his mother also bought four Gold Prime packages; in total, his family bought 16 Gold Prime packages. Each package cost $12,000.

The New Paper also reports that Mr Leo went to Malacca to attend the "ground-breaking ceremony" of the "theme park", where he saw James Phang, founder of Sunshine Empire.

In early 2008, he realised that his rebates were shrinking, and they stopped completely in March 2008. When he wanted to withdraw his investment, he found that he could not print out the withdrawal form from the company's website.

He eventually made a police report.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hope the victims learn their lessons after huge tuition fees.

Hope the would-be victims learn too, and for free.

Take care of yourself, don't expect anyone else to do that and things will be OK. Unless of course you are plain unlucky.

sgcynic said...

The perpetrators and those whose laxity and negligence allowed these scams to persist must be punished.

Anonymous said...

When you are greedy, expect to pay dearly if you dive in too eagerly.

Getting back their initial investments after 10 months will tell you that Sunshine is running a fishy scam.

Did any of the investors make a police report during the early stages when they were getting such rich rewards? Of course not, stupid me. That's life.

steven loke said...

I feel the government have been too lax when handling cases outside their domain (read outside the norm). Sunshine should not have been allowed to proliferate for such a long time, and other MLM schemes should remain banned. Which reminds me. The regulators took the longest of time to act on bucket shops which was thriving in the late 70s and 80s. It seems that the attitude of the regulators is if there are no complains, then they will not and cannot take action. So most of the time, sometime have to happen first, and normally, that will be too late.

Anonymous said...

as the sayin' goes, "if its too good to be true, it usually is".

Beware the promise of false 'prophets'

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Interesting video, thanks.

I like the fact that the sales chart in the video has a Chinese translation underneath which clues us to the target audience.

Also the bizarre message of being both traditional and revolutionary, which would sound contradictory except for the target audience.

I'm always disturbed that this kind of marketing works. I guess there are lots of people who appreciate motivational material.

Anonymous said...

This is different from structured products peddled by established and regulated financial institutions where the risk is not clearly spelt out. It is in the category of snake oil and those who are naive enough to fall for their exaggerated returns have only themselves to claim. Ditto for those who patronise mediums and quacks who promise miracle cures. Caveat emptor applies.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how some Internet hardmen will go around screaming "caveat emptor" and saying that the govt don't need to do anything. It's all the investors' fault, they say.

Erm right. You pay the HIGHEST salaries for your government, then expect the LEAST out of them.

Great logic.

Anonymous said...

LHL govt follows right wing Republican ideology - less govt regulation, more "free market" and "trickle-down economics". LKY chimes in "your eyes are open". Such is the PAP of today, a party of money politics, self-entitlements and cronyism.

Anonymous said...

Con man like this always operate under the governemnt's radar. Plus they always prey on people's greed. If you are not greedy, you won't fall into their trap. Rule of thumb is when it's too good to be true, it usually is.

Anonymous said...

I am very motivated after watching Jame's video on youtube.

How do I go about investing my money with James?

Thanks Lucky for sharing that inspiring video with us. I think it's also a good time for me to brush up my Mandarin and calligraphy.

Anonymous said...

PAP also operates a scam called the CPF. They are able to bring in new members continuously to pay those earlier one. It is able to survive until today as money keeps flowing in.

Anonymous said...

Even aneh got conned. surprised!

Anonymous said...

No defense for them as they are already saddled with many problems like credit debts, loans, mortgages. In other words, all lines are breached and they are more likely to try out risky things since already in a bad shape to begin with.

With the 2 Casinos to be ready soon, it will be more common.

BTW any savers here with no debts at all and still some savings like a 5 figure sum in the bank? Things are dire for the common folks.

Anonymous said...

Talking about Sunshine Empire, I believe that there is still a few millions left out of the $189 millions.

I just afraid that after the case is settled and over, the government will mention about prosecuting people who invests in it and did not declare income tax and no one dares to claim back what is left.

Then who gets to kept the few millions that is still there?

Tony said...

UK Land Banking plots will be the next Sunshine Empire.

Anonymous said...

Maybe can sell the wife to the burnt investors as payment

Anonymous said...

Introduced to sunshine by a 'friend' who's from malacca caused he saw their 'grand' opening there. But he can't answer me clearly how sunshine is able to generate such good returns. When bad news broke, I questioned him whether he bought any and he kept avoiding my question.

Singaporean said...

Lee Yong Chew (Ken)
NRIC: S8040039Z

Daniel Tan
NRIC: S8008368H

Jackie Hoo Choon Cheat
NRIC: S7921939H

James Phang Wah
NRIC: S1378642I


Daniel Tan is still at large.

If you have information about him, please contact:
Commercial Affairs Department
Address : 391 New Bridge Road #06-701
Police Cantonment Complex Block D
Singapore 088762

Tel : (+65) 1800 325 0000
Fax : (+65) 6223 3171
Email : SPF_CADWebmaster@spf.gov.sg

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Anonymous said...

Quote
"It's amazing how some Internet hardmen will go around screaming "caveat emptor" and saying that the govt don't need to do anything. It's all the investors' fault, they say.

Erm right. You pay the HIGHEST salaries for your government, then expect the LEAST out of them.

Great logic."

It took the US authorities more than 15 years to discover the Madoff scam. It took the Singapore authorities one year to discover the Sunshine Empire scam
So, where is your logic?

Dean said...

Why has there been no updates of the case??

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Yau-ming's blog!! said...

I find it curious that the authorities can impose hefty fines for people who cheat on their GST but seem rather sanguine when dealing with fraudsters who cheat its citizens out of more money. All these MLM and dubious schemes should be banned and their instigators should be jailed every minute for each dollar they stole. They tend to prey on retirees, pensioners - easy targets - the govt should take extra care in protecting them.

Yau-ming's blog!! said...

Oh, as for the comment regarding the US authorities slowness to act on the Madoff scam - maybe its because they paid their officials and govt servants peanuts. We pay our leaders and top officials richly - compare them if you like. Plus our govt system is a lot more regulated than the US, try holding an unauthorized rally and see what happens :D

www.tapicerias.nom.es said...

It's all wrong what you're writing.