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Duped by online get-rich-quick scheme
Fri, Jan 29, 2010
New Straits Times

GEORGE TOWN: A 46-year-old businessman who invested in an online get-rich-quick scheme thought he was set for life after the company lavished him with exotic holidays with VIP treatment. He was flown to casinos in Macau more than 10 times over the past few years and put up in hotels.

He was also given Rolex watches, diamond bracelets and casino chips to be exchanged for cash as dividends from his investments in the scheme.

As his confidence grew, R. Prakash started investing more and more until he ended up pumping about RM4.9 million (S$2.01 million) in the scheme.

Then, the trips and payments stopped.

It was only then that Prakash realised that greed had caused him to lose his entire investment.

Yesterday, he, along with 15 others who had pumped in money with the Ontario-based LeCruz get-rich-quick investment scheme, turned up at the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) office to relate their experiences.

"I was excited with the entire scheme after they accorded me with trips to Macau and gave me a Rolex watch or diamond bracelet each time I invested.

"I increased my investments after looking into the company's background. Everything checked out, but we found out later that it had been sold to an Indonesian who refused to refund investors their money."

Another investor, M. Shankar Ganesh, 34, said he lost about RM1.4 million (S$576,660) to the scheme.

Like Prakash, Shankar, too, was blinded by lucrative offers by the company.

"I was flown to Macau seven times and rubbed shoulders with the high-rollers at the VIP halls. I flew there almost every month," said Shankar, adding that little did he realise that it was just a scam.

The victims, who had lodged police reports, believe thousands of other Malaysians may have invested in the scheme.

The company was said to have been paying out lucrative dividends when it was first introduced in late 2008.

CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the authorities should set up a special unit to deal with such scam and work closely with Bank Negara, the Securities Commission, Malaysian Communications and the Multimedia Commission and the police.

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