'I just want my money back': Wheelchair-bound man claims he was misled into investing almost $180k in cryptocurrency

'I just want my money back': Wheelchair-bound man claims he was misled into investing almost $180k in cryptocurrency
PHOTO: Shin Min Daily News

He had invested almost $180,000 of his life savings in virtual currency three years ago, thinking that it could help bolster his retirement savings.

Now, the 66-year-old man, identified by his surname Hong, is seeking the return on his investment, claiming that he had been misled into buying the product.

According to Shin Min Daily News on Saturday (Sept 16), Hong, who suffers from muscle atrophy and requires a wheelchair to get around, had gotten acquainted with a healthcare product promoter in Bugis MRT Station in November 2020.

Hong stated that the woman helped him to set up a meeting with a man, who identified himself as the founder of a Singapore-based IT services and solutions company, as well as another woman. The pair sold him a virtual currency.

According to Shin Min Daily News, Hong was told he could use the virtual currency for real-life transactions. He was also allegedly told that the currency would be listed within 15 months on March 2022 and that the value would rise from US$1.70 to $3 to $4, thereby earning Hong a profit from the difference.

Hong invested $50,000 twice in the same month, purchasing a total of 48,395 coins. He claimed that the other party sent him 31 WhatsApp messages in the following days, sharing that the currency had continually appreciated in value. Hong then said he purchased more coins, costing him $75,529.

According to the Chinese evening daily, Hong had spent almost his entire life savings to buy 90,000 coins.

Hong told Shin Min that he'd also introduced the investment scheme to his friend and younger brother.

"In the end, there was no news from the other party after 15 months. When my friend and I went to question them, we found out the currency is not listed," Hong said.

Wanting legal restitution, he hired lawyer Darren Tan from Invictus Corporation to take the company to court.

Hong claimed that the other party knew about his age, health condition and financial situation. He added that they were aware that he knew nothing about virtual currencies, but did not ask him to seek legal advice.

Believing that the company's statements were misleading, Hong is seeking that the transaction be deemed invalid, and for his investment of $175,529 to be returned.

Hong, who was diagnosed with muscle atrophy at 18 and was wheelchair-bound by the age of 30, claimed to have had only a primary-school education and is not literate in English.

He added that he had worked in a Malaysian fish farm with a salary of about $2,000 to $3,000 before retiring a few years ago because of complications from diabetes. Hong said he had developed gangrene on his toes, which had to be amputated.

Explanations made in both English and Mandarin, company refutes

Shin Min Daily News reported that, in its defence, the company has refuted most of Hong's claims.

It stated that they had met up with Hong in person more than 10 times and had explained the scheme to him in both English and Mandarin for more than two hours each time.

According to the defendant's statements reported by Shin Min, Hong had claimed to be a big shareholder of a Malaysian fish farm and thus was deemed to be an astute businessman familiar with contractual procedures.


It added that the terms of the contracts signed on Dec 6 and Dec 22, 2020, had clearly stated that no refunds will be given after currencies are purchased, and that all trading investments involve risk.

The defendant also stated that the virtual currency was listed on two cryptocurrency exchange platforms on May 19, 2022, and June 24, 2022, respectively. It added that the currency can still be used on real estate transactions.

In addition, the defendant indicated that on May 22 this year, it had compensated Hong $14,000 to buy back 20,000 units of currency based on the agreement. However, the virtual currency has yet to be returned, thereby contravening the agreement.

According to Shin Min Daily News' report, the defendant also claimed that on Nov 2, 2022, it had transferred 90,000 coins to Hong, and therefore is requesting for compensation of $14,000 along with the 90,000 in virtual currency.

To the claims, Hong told Shin Min: "My friend spent $24,984 to buy the coins, but in the end he'd negotiated with the company for $14,000 to be returned. The company transferred the money to me and asked me to transfer it to my friend, and he has already taken the money.

"I had also suggested for the company to buy back my virtual currency for 60 per cent of its value, but was rejected. Instead, they gave me 90,000 in other digital currencies as compensation, but I just want to get my money back."

Hong, who's married, told Shin Min that his wife and daughter are still unaware of the case and that he's just hoping to get his money back at the end of it.

"I also want to warn everyone to be wary of virtual currency investment schemes," said Hong, describing it as "deep waters".


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