On Friday (28 June), a concerned grandson named Jeryl Ng took to his Facebook to a share a “legal scam” case that sells a magical “electric chair” targeting seniors, including his “illiterate grandma”.
He wrote this post after his grandma almost became a victim of this alleged medical scam, and wanted to raise awareness and warn other seniors before they get cheated of their savings.
In Mr Ng’s post, he said that the elderly woman got to know about this alleged business scam after her neighbourhood friends introduced it to her. They mentioned that this magical “electric chair” is capable of potentially curing any diseases like stroke, diabetes, arthritis and even cancer.
However, the chair comes with a hefty price tag of S$26,000 for the most basic model, and the salesperson who spoke to Mr Ng’s grandma emphasised that the chair “is a family heirloom that can be passed down for generations.”
As such, the elderly woman was convinced to make a purchase as she had some money in her bank account that she will be able to retrieve in two months’ time.
How it all started
After learning about this incident, Mr Ng was worried about this scam and wanted “to find ways to help her before she spend the money and regret”. As such, he agreed to listen to her side of the story to understand the whole situation better.
Mr Ng found out know that his grandma has been visiting the “Bedok branch for 3 months on a daily basis without fail”. He also learned that the business first told all their customers that it’s free of charge and they can come to the centre to use the chair as often as they want.
As expected, senior citizens and sickly individuals flocked the place for the free sessions.
“During the sessions, she saw a lot of photo claims about illness being cured by the machine – cancer, stroke, diabetes, joint issues and even skin burns. During the sessions, she would also hear positive feedback from people beside her about their illnesses were healed after using their products and such,” he wrote.
However after a month, Mr Ng mentioned that the people in the centre told her about the product and how convenient it would be for her to use it in the comfort of her own home. Without mentioning the cost, they also noted that everyone is getting to use the chair for free, thanks to their good-hearted boss.
However in the second month, Mr Ng said that his grandma was told that the shop had to be closed soon because the chairs are selling like hot cakes. They also said that they want to move to a new place due to the increasing rental cost.
After inquiring about the price, she found out that it costs S$26,000 for the basic and S$36,000 for the premium model. Although the price is on the higher end for most individuals, the company convinces the seniors by saying that it’s cheaper in the long run, compared to spending a huge sum on medicines and surgeries for illnesses like cancer.
“Now it suddenly becomes worth it, cause it’s $26K with complete cure versus S100K surgery without cure,” he wrote.
If that is not all, Mr Ng also explained that the company “apply psychological techniques” on these seniors by saying that they look a lot healthier after using the chair. He added that they also went to the extent of convincing his grandma to reduce her medications, which resulted to her halting her scheduled knee cap surgery.
“She kept repeating that the machine will cure her in time so there’s no need for any surgery, she said that her “friend” even stopped diabetes medicine for a few years on this machine. This led to me considering the possibilities that the company hired fake actors to claim that they had been cured, to convince the seniors ‘there, they have human evidence,’” he noted.
Come the third month, the grandson wrote that the salesperson said that their sales were overwhelmingly good and are left with only 4 sets, and are now selling it at S$17,000. Due to the good bargain, his grandma placed a down-payment of S$2,000.
After she paid S$2,000, it caused a lot of family drama as Mr Ng’s parents and aunts didn’t approve her purchase and asked her to get a refund. In an attempt to show his support for his grandma who was visibly upset with the whole incident, Mr Ng said that he along with his wife convinced her to go to another branch as they wanted to try it for themselves.
Mr Ng’s personal experience of the “scam” business
Upon entering the new centre, Mr Ng immediately noticed CCTVs around the area with posters stating no recordings are allowed.
“We were waiting quietly and I started looking around, a middle aged lady seemed to be moving her head around, perhaps looking for someone to fish I supposed? Out of nowhere, she started to talk to my grandma saying that her leg cured completely without medication just after 3 attempts. Yeah, really fishy,” he said.
As expected, Mr Ng said that the salesperson also targeted them as they were new to the centre. After asking multiple questions to the salesperson like how this machine can cure illness and what is the connection between electrons and breast cancer, Mr Ng noted that the man failed to answer his questions.
Convinced that this was a scam and not a legitimate business operation, Mr Ng went back home to persuade his grandma by using “reverse psychology”. Thankfully, the elderly woman finally understood the whole situation and she was even “a little angry of herself for causing harm to people around her”.
As such, he said that people should be aware of this issue and ensure that their parents are not cheated out of their life savings.
“Brainwashing may have been around for hundreds of years but the techniques are being improvised regularly to make them harder to notice, especially for desperate seniors that are looking for fast cure. Do not quarrel with the victims as they had been treated very well by those salesperson, doing so would only cause them to doubt you even more. Go and look for professional help if you have trouble communicating,” he stressed.
Mr Ng also shared with TOC an audio clip of such sessions where the speaker first told that husbands may seek for another woman if their wife has to remove their breast due to cancer, and “women are not perfect without their breasts”. After wasting almost an hour listening to the speaker’s explanation, Mr Ng pushed him to talk more about the machine and what it does. It was then when the speaker claimed that our body charges electricity with the machine, which Mr Ng then questioned if anyone can verify if our body can actually be charged like battery.
The speaker also went on further and talked about positive and negative ions, and said that stoke is caused by “wire cut”, therefore electricity can’t pass through, and claimed that human body can use machine to charge, indicating this is something that the machine can do.
In the comment section of his post which had more than 250 responses, many netizens thanked Mr Ng for bringing up this issue so that more people will be aware of this kind of scams targeting elderly individuals. Some said it’s a “sin” to be cheating the elderly and too many of them “fall prey to these unethical marketing ethics”.
A bunch of them also highlighted different places in Singapore that have these “scam” centres, some even in their neighbourhood.
A few of them said that Mr Ng should make a police report of this centre and report to CASE, MOH, MPs as well as the media so everyone will be aware of this horrible scam.
In fact, Facebook user Samuel Ling said that he had reported of such business scams to various parties like the police, CASE, HSA, press as well as his MP as he had been “following these guys since 2015”. Mr Ling wanted to report about them as he thinks their “sales tactics and their targeting of the elderly and vulnerable, coupled with the high price of their machines, is unconscionable”.
However, he noted that all his complaints were futile as all the parties ended up referring him to different groups. Since he is not a victim himself, he said that “the authorities have been unwilling to take action on this” and “because they believe a ‘caveat emptor’ (buyer beware) approach is sufficient”, all his attempts were basically a wild goose chase.