Talking a Different Money Game Talk

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The magic has gone out of money games and the tides are turning as more schemes fall like a house of cards.

  • In less than one month, 7 schemes went bust for falling apart
  • Members’ total loss RM3b, and counting
  • Loss of faith and trust
  • Weary of waiting for promised refunds, “investors” want their money back

For the past two years, Penang was a hub for money games, with many people laughing their way to the bank.

The brains behind the so-called “investment schemes” reinvented get-rich-quick, Ponzi and pyramid schemes, which have a bad rep, and called them by the unblemished “money games”. They named their schemes to resonate with the middle-class, and so you have Poor-to-Rich, Richway and Change Your Life. Then they dangled the super-high returns bait that few could resist and thus the “game” began. Even fewer, if any, questioned how such high yields could be realised in so short a time. As long as the money was rolling in, no one really cared.

Coffeeshop talk was all about the various money games and their respective features – to the point of obsession.

Now there is even a greater buzz but of the growling kind.

“Investors” caught in troubled schemes have grown from hopeful to jittery to untrusting and upset. They are weary of waiting for the promised repayments and just want their money back. Not in a few years’ time as JJPTR’s brazen Johnson Lee had proposed, but pronto.

With the money games falling like a house of cards, the tides are turning and people want out.

The Star reported that even the once loyal and gung-ho “generals” of Johnson Lee, who helped him recruit “investors”, are losing faith and demanding their capital back. Some of them won’t be joining Lee’s new plan, while others are adopting a wait-and-see attitude.

Some members won’t even be attending the company dinner on May 20, despite having bought tickets that cost RM400 a piece. Generally, they feel betrayed and think Lee should earn back their trust before launching the new plan. They are also none too happy that he is appearing only in videos to communicate with them. Some employees are apprehensive that they could face the brunt of the law.

Like in the song ‘My Way’, regrets the duped “investors” have a few – of not heeding the warnings of wiser ones, of convincing family and friends to become members.

One “investor” said, “I convinced about 200 of my family members, friends and colleagues to join JJPTR, saying that it was a good investment plan. Now, every time I see them, I just don’t know what to say.”

Thankfully, some have learned their lesson and vowed never to put their money in such schemes in the future.

In the past month alone, at least six schemes have gone bust or are on the verge of it, with “investors” losing up to RM3bil in total. They are JJPTR, Richway Global Venture, Change Your Life, BTC I-system, Paramount-I Create a Life, GD Income Builder and MAXflex.

The latest on JJPTR is Lee’s pledge to prioritise the return of capital to persons with disabilities (OKU).

According to The Sunday Daily, he said he would also meet with 18 representatives of overseas investors to explain what was going on. Reiterating his previous claims, he defended JJPTR’s high returns, alleging that it was achievable through trading foreign currency and Bitcoin investments. He claimed to only earn a profit of one per cent.

Guang Ming Daily reported that Lee has not been threatened by anyone after the scheme collapsed. The brash 28-year-old was quoted as saying he would not waste time facing the media but would focus on returning the principal to members. He said members will be notified of developments via Facebook and Wechat.

The masterminds behind Richway, Change Your Life and BTC-I-system remain obscure and their whereabouts unknown. Attempts by many journalists to contact them have been unsuccessful.

According to a China Press report, GD Income Builder was formed by three individuals from Kedah and was just two weeks old before it caved in. One of the founders, 39-year-old Johnson Chean, had officiated at the opening of the Butterworth office on Apr 15. On May 4, “investors who had been staking out the office for the boss – allegedly ‘missing’ since the previous day – to turn up found the company’s signboard and letterbox removed overnight.

The latest to collapse is an alleged forex scam which cheated people of an estimated RM3.5mil in Kedah. A man was arrested on Monday.

Is this where the bucks stop for money games up north?

Related reports:

Apr 28, Another High-Returns Scheme in Trouble!

Apr 26, DAP Issues 48-Hour Ultimatum to JJPTR

Apr 25, Game Over for JJPTR?