Woman suffering from liver failure loses $42,000 after joining investment scheme

Woman suffering from liver failure loses $42,000 after joining investment scheme
LOST: Madam Normah Ahmed, 58, lost $42,000 of her savings after investing in a seaweed farm.

She needed $1,000 a month to pay her medical bills following a liver transplant operation two years ago.

Although her two children are working and able to provide for her, Madam Normah Ahmed, 58, did not want to impose on them.

So when a friend told her about a get-rich-quick investment scheme, Madam Normah invested about $42,000 of her savings in a seaweed farm company, Solarwarm, in August last year.

She was promised three times returns in three months and Madam Normah thought she would not have to worry about her finances from then on.

But a few months later, in October, her troubles worsened.

Businessman Simon Ng, 54, to whom she had entrusted her money to invest, kept making excuses for the payment delays.

Several other people who invested with Mr Ng were in the same predicament.

NO RECOVERY

Today, Madam Normah, who lives in a four-room HDB flat in the West, has yet to recover a cent from her investment of $42,000.

The administrative assistant still has "a few thousand" in the bank, but she told The New Paper that life would be tougher without most of her hard-earned money.

Madam Normah had suffered liver failure in 2013 and received a portion of her son's liver in an operation in May that year.

This means she has to receive lifelong medical treatment.

"There are blood tests, medical check-ups and liver transplant medication to be paid for every month," she said.

"I don't know what's going to happen, but it means I have to continue working and saving all over again. I feel so stupid and really regret what I've done."

Help from her children is not an option, she said.

"They have their own families to take care of. I can't be burdening them with my medical bills."

Last Tuesday, she and a group of about 15 other investors chased Mr Ng across Singapore in a bid to recover their money. (See report on right.)

Housewife Bebe Sim, 55, claimed that she invested about $680,000 into four companies following Mr Ng's instructions. A friend had introduced her to him in January last year.

"I was taken in when he said he was helping others. Plus, I've always been doing well with my own stocks and shares so I thought to give it a try.

"He told me he was earning $100,000 a month and said that if I invested money and time into this, my daughter and I would not have to work again," she said.

So between January and July last year, she invested in four companies - Wenyard, Bossventure, Solarwarm and Mega Option.

To fund these investments, she withdrew all her savings, sold her other shares and pawned her jewellery.

She said she did so after Mr Ng had promised her high returns and payouts.

He also flew her on all-expenses paid trips to Malaysia for seminars and to visit the Solarwarm farm.

But even though she received about $40,000 in payouts from Solarwarm, the rest of her $640,000 - excluding the promised profits - has yet to be returned to her.

"My family is now in ruins. We used to be able to lead a comfortable life, but now we have to scrimp and save every day," she said.

Another investor, who wanted only to be known as Mr C. G. Lim, said he gave up a five-figure salary job to focus on Mr Ng's recommended investments.

He went on to invest about $55,000 in the same companies as Madam Sim.

But Mr Lim began to realise he could lose all his money in September last year.

He said he found himself walking listlessly down the streets and he eventually broke down.

"I even brought my wife and her family into this. Today, she brings this up every day.

"I just hope the authorities can look into this and get our money back," he said.

Added Madam Normah: "Now I know there's no such thing as a get-rich-quick scheme. I'll never trust something like this again."

BUSINESSMAN: I AM A VICTIM TOO

They chased him from his Toa Payoh flat to his lawyer's office in Changi.

The angry investors even hired a debt-collection agency, JMS Roger's, to get their money back from businessman Simon Ng, who had been entrusted with their money for investments.

But Mr Ng, 54, told The New Paper in a phone interview on Friday that he, too, was a victim of the failed multi-level marketing scheme.

He claimed that he lost over $100,000 and added that he had introduced only "two to three" people to the scheme and it was they who spread the word to others.

Last Tuesday, Mr Ng, 54, was supposed to meet a group of 15 investors at a coffee shop in Geylang.

When he sent another person to pass on his lawyer's details to them, they flocked to his Toa Payoh flat at about 2pm, reported The Straits Times.

A woman who answered the door told them that Mr Ng was not home before calling the police.

It was only when police officers arrived that he came to the door and complained to them that he was being harassed by debt collectors.

When he tried to leave for his lawyer's office in Changi at about 5pm, investors confronted him in the carpark near his flat. They approached him again outside his lawyer's office two hours later.

Mr Ng added that the money was invested into the various companies and he did not pocket the investors' money.

For now, he said that he has passed the matter to his lawyers.


This article was first published on June 15, 2015.
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