Sunday, September 16, 2007

Gullible Malaysians

As far back as 1965 I have seen how the common folks were duped into participating into an easy money making scheme called Strike Roulette. It was a simple scheme involving buying a form with some 25 names preprinted on ot at RM5.00. Each participant must send RM5.00 to the name on the top of a list. Another RM5 must be sent to the organiser. All payments must be made using postal order. The idea is to recruit more participants and you can see your name being put on the list and watch it climb to the top. The ultimate is to see your name topping the list and start receiving the RM5 postal orders. In total you could receive a total of RM125. A princely sum from an investment of RM15 and you could recoup the RM5 paid for the form when you sell the one form given to you after registration.

It was a pyramid system. As a pyramid system it will work only when the downlines could replicate the same act. Any failure by the downlines will mean less money will be received. More often you will be buying the forms for your own use in order to reap multiple benefits.

Two of my elder sisters were involved then. I could see the scheme grew when more people in my village were involved. They were easly convinced when shown the postal orders received by the earlier players. The quality of the forms too improved from cheap duplicating papers to colour machine printed ones. The organizer was based in Kuala Lumpur with bona fide registered office and team of staff.

Then came the heart rending reality when the government declared that the scheme was illegal. The company's officed was raided and machines confiscated. The organizers were charged for illegal deposit taking activities. Thus ended the scheme and many people lost their investment including my two sisters who were almost reaching the very top of the pyramid and soon to receive the strings of postal orders.

Everybody forget after some times. Some 20 years later a man by the name of Pak Man Telo started another investment scheme. Cash were collected with the promise that immediate high return will be paid out to the account of the investor. The return rate was ludicrously high and the investors naver questioned how it was possible to get such return. All they cared was they did get the payments or at least they saw others got theirs. Greed set in and they reinvest any monies received from the scheme.

At the same time other similar schemes cropped up. Big names were a prized catch to the operators to lend credibilty to the scheme. Such names would be floated around to entice others to join in. Beside monetary rewads, cars were also offered to participants who was required to make a downpayment and the installment will be deducted from the income to be received. My wife's uncle and brother was some of the family member who participated. Even when Pak Man Telo's operation was busted and payments to investors were stopped, newer schemes still managed to be introduced. People who made losses from Pak Man Telo's scheme joined the new ones to recoup losses from the earlier ones. Such is the stupidity of man.

The year 2006 saw the introduction to Kelantan of another investment scheme using the internet as a tool. No more papers were involved and everything was done online. All you need was a Maybank account to facilitate transactions. The modus operandi was the same. High and fast return. To lend credence that it was an overseas operation, transactions were done in dollars. Nobody could tell exactly which dollar currency since it wasn't exactly specified. It was presumed as US dollars as the conversion rate used was then about 3.5 ringgit when you cash out but when you cash in it was RM3.8. It didnt matter that the USD was being traded at lower rates but their rate were always constant.

To the ordinary simple folks the internet is the ultimate medium. They were shown on the computers how their investment goes. It was the system who did it and the agents were never involved in the computations on how the income were derived. All in the sysytem thay said. All you need to do is check your account online to see how your investment was growing.

The propagators of the scheme was always a local of the area and very much known to the investors. That was how confidence was built. Another way was to recruit the village's respected figures to invest and he will of course speak well of the scheme and how he had been getting his return without fail. In my own village they managed to get the Imam of the mosque himself to invest. Others saw the scheme as 'halal' upon the Imam's involvement. Never suspecting that the Imam was as greedy as they were when it came to making some money.

Again it was the governments intervention that halted the scheme. The government declared that only certain investment schemes were legal. Most that involved the village folks were deemed illegal. Many lost their investments and went after the local agents. Those who persistently asked for their money to be returned either get them fully and some partially.

Come another twenty years the whole fiasco will be forgotten and the whole scam will be repeated. As long as we are gullible, we will forever become victims to such scams.

It is a wonder why the government took so long to act. Signs of the scam surfacing were too obvious. If the scam was nipped in the bud, not so many people would have lost their money.

The latter scams involving the internet were obvious scams. Scams such as inherited fortunes in Africa and winning lotteries that you didnt even participate in were too obvious and yet gullible people can still fall for them.

So much is the greed of man that they cant even rationalise things when it comes to easy money.

12 comments:

trueblue said...

With the many warnings and stories about the scams, it puzzles me how people are still easily influenced to join in. I don't believe in easy money. Sounds too good to be true.

P/S: Thanks for dropping by my blog

Azmy Omar said...

Greed is the word. The temptation of getting easy money is hard to fight against.

True this scheme will continue to exist once the present one is forgotten. The truth is; who doesn't easy money - and to convince them all the first few 'investors' do get a substatial amount of easy money. This will of course atrract more and more investors... until the 'company' have gathered enough money and will close their websites for good.

See.

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http://www.mohdimran.com/idachmy/

Zawi said...

trueblue,
Greed is the word. Most knows of the implication but they wanted to gamble with the little that they have to gain more.
Welcome to my humble site.

Zawi said...

Tuan Haji Azmy,
It is nice to note that you have progressed to online business.
Semoga berjaya.

J.T. said...

Hi Zawi

I will be back to read your posting. I was a little busy ... again (what's new huh?) haha

Just put out a new posting too and trying to catch up with other blogs around.

Zawi said...

j.t.
Don't worry, no hurry, no curry.

J.T. said...

I agree with Trueblue. I don't believe in easy money. It sounds too good to be true. I was watching Oprah Winfrey show sometime back and the expert investigator, her guest, said "when something is too good to be true, it usually is."

I guess there are still some gullible people out there. The thing is when the first few start making money, they are not the gullible ones. They say that they grabbed an excellent opportunity. The downliners get impressed with what they see and they are the actual ones who fall victims to the scheme. If a few downliners make some money, then they too will not consider themselves gullible either. Whatever it is, when one scheme is shut down, others will pop up elsewhere. It is never ending.

One of the biggest money scams in today's world is the inherited fortunes coming not only from Africa (particularly Nigeria) but from many other countries. These days they are brave enough (and sick enough) to use names of people who died in plane crashes.

Zawi said...

j.t.
I missed that show of Oprah then. Must be a splendid show for us. I usually will see the topic of her show and if it is something that I am interested in I will stick with the show. I like her frankness and she is one daring lady who will call a spade a spade. Her talk show with the prostitutes will forever be etched on my mind.
Its not only the Malaysians are gullible then. Its a global weakness among humans I guess. We should learn something from the animals I guess. I have observed that when you feed your fish in the aquarium, they will stop feeding once they have taken their fill. The remainders will be left for later. This is a habit rarely seen among humans. Most humans will take more than their fair share due to greed.

Azura said...

Too many nice story being told that the money is there and get double. Therefore, people buy it Even people who work in the bank. Greedy always part of human being.........

Zawi said...

Long (Azura)
Bankers also get conned? They know it was a con job and they know the risk but want to try their luck and try to make off with some money. They hope to run off immediately after making a killing. Hey bankers are human too rite? Just dont get yourself involve my dear and I will be very happy. Just live with what you have. Your late grandfather told me, "With money, even if you have a little amount it can be enough, and even if you have alot of it, it can never be enough. Just manage your money well and you can have enough of them". Those are his wise words and I am passing them on to you.

NaNa said...

Hi Zawi,

Greed makes people forget about the risks involved. Those who create the scheme know very well that some people just can't resist the thought of maximizing their wealth using the fastest and easist possible way.

Zawi said...

Nana,
You are right. After some time it will be repeated and another new set of greedy people will become victim. Keep telling your children of such happenings. Ever wonder why some tribes know they must run when impending tsunami will be coming even though they have never experienced it? The tale is told from generation to generation to look out for tell tale sign of it.