A video of a large crowd surrounding a man in the presence of police officers was shared on alternative news websites, citing that it was a video of debt collectors in action to collect debts of sorts. It is also understood that seven police cars and about 14 policemen turned up at the scene to handle the situation.
But what was not said is that the debt collectors were engaged by investors who had invested in seaweed farms to "collect" money back from the person who is supposed to be have introduced them to the "investment".
TOC understands that Simon Ng, the person being surrounded by collecting agents of JMS Rogers debt collection company in the video, had promised the investors, high returns and payouts for their investment at seminars in Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia, flying them there on all-expenses-paid trips.
Presentation in Malaysia for investors-to-be
It is said that over 10 million Singapore dollars worth of investment and over 300 individuals are involved in the case.
So far, more than 20 of such individuals have approached the debt collection company for assistance to retrieve the money that they have thrown into the investment.
Debt collection company rebut claims by Simon to be one of the victims in the investment
Simon called the police when investors and the debt-collection company turned up at his doorsteps two weeks back. Simon complained to the police that he was being harassed by debt collectors and had lodged a similar report last month.
When he tried to leave for his lawyer’s office in Changi at about 5 pm after the earlier confrontation at his home, investors confronted him in the car park near his flat (as shown in the video), demanding to know what happened to their money and the returns he had promised.
He told the investors and the debt-collection company that the multi-level marketing scheme had fallen through, adding in Mandarin: “I’m a victim, too. I lost S$100,000 investing in the scheme.”
However, the preliminary investigation by the debt collection company shows that Simon accepted most of his transaction in cash without maintaining proper official transaction records from the banks.
They also found that there is numerous inconsistency on his claims of being a victim while accepting other investors (their clients and other victims) monetary funding’s to invest for them.
During the first discussion between Simon and JMS Rogers, he was unable to produce justifiable official bank records of the monetary transaction of the money being accepted by him from the victims of the alleged scam.
And upon further request by the debt collection company to clarify whether the business is an investment venture, he claimed it to be an investment. But once asked about the accreditations with Monetary Authority of Singapore, he would immediately change his statement and declare this is a Multi-Level Marketing business.
"Investors" traumatised by their loss
Some of the "investors" have been lured into quitting their profession like senior managers, business owners, senior government and uniform group position.
The STAR reported on how Former security officer C.G. Lim, 40, quit his job last year after Simon convinced him that he could make more money through the scheme and claims that he gave Simon more than S$55,000.
They are also said to be mentally traumatised by the loss of their hard earn money,
“I was trying to provide a better life for my wife and two children,” said Lim. “I even got my mother to invest. I started getting suspicious when my investment matured, but I didn’t receive any money.”
Housewife Bebe Sim, 55, said she has invested more than S$600,000 since January last year, after being promised returns up to three times of what she put in.
She asked Simon: “Where is my hard-earned money?”
Normah Ahmed, 58, had invested her “life savings” of S$30,000 in the hope that she could fund her medical expenses.
The administrative officer, who had undergone a liver transplant, spends between S$1,000 and S$5,000 a month on medication.
“I did not want to bother my children with the financial burden, so I invested my hard-earned money, hoping I could be self-sufficient,” she said.
"I hope the right authorities will intervene into the case, and see through justice is being served. We will assist our clients with the best of knowledge to retrieve back their rightful debts." said Roger in response to TOC's queries.
When asked why have the investors choose to engage the services of the debt-collection company, Roger noted a few reasons; namely their professional collection methods which are efficient, given the time constraint that their clients may have. Compared to engaging lawyers to fight lengthy civil suits which may not bear any results, it also cost lesser and presents itself as a more direct form of meditation.
Seven police reports against businessman
Simon is reported to have seven police reports made against him, one of which TOC understand is filed against Simon for using the investor's credit card to siphon off 80 thousand dollars.
According to the police report, the investor shared her credit card details after Simon claimed that he needs the credit card detail so that he could create an offshore account to have the money transferred.
According to the debt-collection company, the currently suspected investments which it is involved in are four companies; namely MegaOptions, Wenyard, Solarwarm and Boss Venture aka BV Malls, a MLM which is registered in Singapore. It is said that the Singapore authorities governing MLM regulations are not able to help the investors in their matter.
According to a report by the Phnom Penh Post, Ng Chin Chin, the boss of Malaysia-based firm Solarwarm, which owns the seaweed farms, was arrested in Cambodia on April 27.
The police who were at the scene told the victims that CAD will be informed of the case.
Monetary Authority of Singapore in its website states that consumers seeking financial services are strongly encouraged to deal only with persons that are regulated by MAS.
"MAS' regulatory regime aims at safeguarding the interests of consumers by ensuring that only competent and professional persons may provide financial services. The laws administered by MAS also require disclosure of information on investment products being recommended to consumers. If a consumer chooses to deal with persons that are not regulated by MAS, he forgoes the protection afforded under laws administered by MAS, particularly if these persons are based overseas."