Daily Express, Photo Credit to Daily Express
clock 30-09-2017
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Builders Warn of Ponzi Scheme

Sabah Housing and Real Estate Developers Association (SHAREDA) has raised a fresh alarm over an alleged Ponzi scheme involving bogus property development projects in Sabah.

SHAREDA's President Chew Sang Hai said he learnt the number of investors in the scheme continues to rise and about 2,000 more from China, many of the high-profile figures, are expected to sign up next week.

"I'm very worried. (They're) very high profile. Last time, I was told there were a few hundred (potential investors from China who came to invest) and now there's more," he told reporters after opening the Propex 2017 at the Sabah Trade Centre on Thursday, 28 September.

He said the investors do not invest in actual properties but purchase shares from a so-called company.

The company's modus operandi involves putting out an attractive advertisement via social media such as WhatsApp about some development taking place. In one particular case, he said it involved a so-called property development in a 1,000-acre land in Karambunai.

"The ad is fantastic. It tells about a certain big project and anyone can buy its shares.

They don't buy the property. Just the shares of the company. The so-called property or property development is only a product of the scheme. So anyone can introduce the scheme to friends.

It's a multi-level marketing," he said.

But Chew said SHAREDA suspects the scheme is nothing more than a scam and advised potential buyers to first find out if the company's prospectus has been approved by the Securities Commission to enable it to sell shares to the public.

He said SHAREDA had also brought up the issue to the attention of the relevant State and Federal government agencies including the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

Apparently, Chew said there is not just one scheme but many.

"Many Ponzi schemes were launched through the digital media and many overseas and local investors have actively participated. SHAREDA appeals to the government agencies like the MCMC to tackle them before they cause a disaster to our state," he said.

He also called for the amendment of the Housing Developers Act to ensure strict control of digital media promotion of properties.

He stressed that SHAREDA's biggest worry is when the scheme goes bust, it will not only cause so many investors to feel cheated but also tarnish the reputation of genuine property promotions.

He advised buyers to only deal with Shareda members to avoid problems.

Earlier this month, Chew said a huge property development allegedly near the naval base in Sepanggar was heavily promoted online. He reportedly said SHAREDA had checked and found out found there had been no submission to the local authority for such a project in the area.

He had disclosed that the advertisement was in Chinese showing photo of the 'Sepanggar project' model with mock-up buildings that looked like Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Twin Tower, Dubai's Burj Al Khalifa, Taipei 101, Tokyo Tower and Eiffel Tower in Paris.

He had also said the so-called developer promoted the development as bigger than Kuala Lumpur city and was looking for investors willing to fund the holiday concept of living.

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