When I was a child, my parents told me I would get money if I placed my fallen baby teeth under my pillow.
So, naturally, I proceeded to pluck the rest of my teeth and placed them under my pillow to acquire more cash. Unfortunately, all I ended up with was a bloody pillow, horrified parents, and a trip to the emergency room.
OK, so that didn’t really happen, because I would have bled to death. But the point stands:
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
62 people learned that the hard way when one “investment guru” swindled a total of S$503,988 from them.
31-year-old Alvin Ker Jia Jun pleaded guilty in the State Courts to 40 counts of cheating on Monday (Aug 19). 95 other similar charges will be taken into consideration for sentencing in October.
Gambling Is Scary
Ker developed a gambling habit in 2017. As you know, gambling is the crack of the financial world; it’s debilitatingly addictive. Ker loved the rush of gambling and wanted more money to wager in casinos.
So, he came up with a plan to convince others to give him money.
The Perfect Plan
The freelance IT consultant made several posts on Facebook seeking investors for non-existent schemes with attractive guaranteed rates of return. In one of these schemes, Ker promised to double their investment capitals, with the capital invested guaranteed.
Here’s a tip to avoid scams. When you see the money in denominations that you never knew existed in paper spread out beautifully across a table in a post promising you easy money, it’s probably a scam.
He then asked his friends to help share these on their own social media platforms to gain more visibility and publicity, according to Deputy Public Prosecutor Kelvin Chong.
This was clearly a very effective tactic on Ker’s part. If you come across a stranger on social media promising absurdly attractive rates of return, you’d probably dismiss him as a lunatic. But when this same lunatic is endorsed by many other people, his claims will seem more credible.
Once Ker reeled in a few interested parties, he gave them many different explanations on how their money would be “invested”. Here are some of his explanations:
- Investing in an educational institution
- Investing in an opportunity related to the SkillsFuture Credit scheme
- Using the money to invest in casinos
He certainly invested the money in casinos, just not quite the way the investors would have liked.
Ker used these investments to gamble in casinos both in Singapore and overseas. When he got lucky and won, he would transfer some of his winnings to his victims to keep the scheme going.
To create confidence in his investment scheme and attract more clients, Ker posted screenshots of the bank transfer on his Facebook page. His friends and victims shared these posts as well.
However, like many gamblers, Ker soon found out that the house always wins. He started losing heavily at gambling and grew desperate.
Desperate Times Called For Desperate Measures
So, instead of recognizing this vicious cycle of elation and desperation, Ker asked his friends to look for more investors, and he eventually attracted more clients.
In order to appease his increasingly frustrated victims who were asking for their returns, Ker made excuses. For example, he said that he had reached his online banking transfer limit.
Ker eventually lost all the money his victims had given him.
The 31-year-old was arrested on March 5 last year when he returned to Singapore from a gambling trip in Vietnam.
He has since paid more than $100,000 in restitution.
For each cheating charge, Ker could be jailed up to 10 years and fined.
Internet scams are on the rise, so be more cautious online.
Remember how your parents used to ask you not to talk to strangers? Well, you should probably do that online too.
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