Wednesday, July 28, 2010

China's young rich learn how to get richer

The rich gets richer? China's young rich learn how to get richer as reported in an article that appeared in The Straits Times July 28 2010. The combined wealth of the families in the class was reported to be in the region of dozens of billions of yuan.  

These children of the rich were attending courses to learn from ancient emperors' secrets on succession planning. The trainers teaching the lessons included advisers to government and top conglomerates, lecturers from China's top universities and Communist Party scholars. 

Some people are unhappy with the lessons given as they feel that the income gap is already too big and this will worsen the situation by promoting elitism as the rich gets richer.

Let us be realistic here, being born into a wealthy family sure has its privileges and attending such lessons is just one of them. You cannot stop the universities or private institutions providing seminars or talks targeted at the rich on how to grow their wealth or how to preserve their wealth.

However, does that mean that the rest of us who are born without silver/golden/diamond spoons should lose all hope? Well, all is not lost. Some of the heirs to the wealthy family businesses skipped lectures and many were more interested in talking about their luxury cars.

We just have to to be motivated and inspired to fight a lot harder and work much harder at investing, savings and growing our money through financial management. The world is not fair, we all know that. Starting the race of life at the back, we just have to run that much harder so perhaps our children can get the chance to start the race nearer to the start line.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Selecting a Financial Consultant - Debunking the Myth

Whose money is it anyway? - The Straits Times 23 July 2010. An article written by me about how you should go about selecting a financial consultant by looking beyond his marketing savvy.

Whose money is it anyway? - In choosing a Financial Consultant, look beyond his marketing savvy
I tried to make the article as easy to understand as possible and suggested the question to be asked if faced with the common claims made by Financial Consultants or Financial Advisers. Read the article for the full story.

The four main points which I highlighted in the article and the question to be asked:

  1. This is the best financial product in the market.
    • On what basis is the recommendation suitable for me?
  2. The more awards the better. 
    • How did you qualify for the awards?
  3. We are the best financial services company.
    • Best in what area?
  4. We can source for you the best products from different companies.
Selecting a good financial consultant may help you a lot more than just saving some dollars and cents.

If you have any feedback or any question which you would like answered, feel free to drop me an email at mywealthmodel(@)gmail,com

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sun not shining on Trio of Sunshine Empire Scam

Court convicts Sunshine Empire trio - The Straits Times Saturday, July 17 2010 Another scam. Can you believe the number of scams out there and the number of people falling for them? Greed is really a sin.

In 15 months, Sunshine Empire actually amassed $180million from 20,000 people.The trio pocketed the following amounts in this short time: James Phang Wah - $7million, Jackie Hoo Choon Cheat - $1 million and Neo Kuon Huay (James Phang's wife) $1 million!

When reporters went undercover and first broke the news, their Posh office in Toa Payoh was pictured, details of their investment projects such as underwater hotel was revealed! For a fee of $240 to $12,000 victims were promised 160 per cent of the value with its customer rebate points. 60% returns on your investments. Immediate with no risks?! Alarm bells should have been blaring.

If you know of anybody who fell victim to Sunshine Empire's Ponzi-like scheme,
there was a How to get money back section.

Visit Commercial Affairs Department website at for information.

I had paid money to Sunshine Empire. When will I recover the money?
A We need to comply with the legal requirements for disposal of the seized monies. These funds cannot be dealt with pending court proceedings.
Back to Top

Q What is the progress of the proceedings in the Subordinate Court?  
A The Subordinate Court delivered the following verdict on 16 July 2010:

a. Jackie Hoo Choon Cheat was convicted on the charge of fraudulent trading under the Companies Act and all the charges involving criminal breach of trust as an agent of Sunshine Empire under the Penal Code. 

b. James Phang Wah was convicted on the charge of fraudulent trading under fraudulent trading under the Companies Act and all the charges involving criminal breach of trust as an agent and falsification of Sunshine Empire’s accounts under the Penal Code. 

c. Neo Kuon Huay was convicted on all charges involving the falsification of Sunshine Empire’s accounts under the Penal Code.  

Sentence will be passed on 30 July 2010 at 9.30 am in Subordinate Court 7.   
Back to Top
Q I have paid money to Sunshine Empire.  Do I need to make a report?
A There is no need to make a report to police at this point in time.  


What will happen after I provide CAD with my particulars and details of my dealings with Sunshine Empire?
A The CAD will contact you, if you are required to further assist in the investigation.  Updates of significant developments on the investigation will be posted in the CAD website at
Q I have already reported the matter to CAD.  Do I have to report the matter to the Police again?
A CAD is a unit of the Singapore Police Force.  There is no need to lodge another police report, if a report has been made to the CAD.
Q What can I do now? 
A If you have reported your dealings with Sunshine Empire to the CAD and provided your personal particulars and details of your dealings, including payment of monies to Sunshine Empire, you should wait for updates from the CAD.


Are there any hotlines that I can call if I have queries on the matter?
A You can contact the CAD office at 6557 5459 during office hours. Our office hours are 8.30 am to 6.00 pm on Mondays to Thursdays and 8.30 am to 5.30 pm on Fridays. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Money Saving Tip - Credit Card

Credit Card Annual Fee
It pays to go through your credit card bill. I don't know about you but I don't believe in paying for my credit card annual fee. It may come in the form of dollar amount listed as a debit in your bill or you do not see any dollar amount but they have already deducted it through your rewards points.

My credit card renewal fees for the different cards range from $180 to $300. I just don't see why I should be paying it when new applicants for the credit card get fee waivers. ALWAYS call in to request they waive it off. Don't have to be embarrassed about doing it. I think it is shocking if you haven't done it before. I think it is SO common, they even have it as an option in their automated recorded messages. If you have say 3 credit cards, that will save you about $600!

Of course, the more often you use the card and the higher the amount you usually use, the higher the chance for them to accede to your request. If you hardly ever use the card, I doubt they will agree to the waiver.

Late Payment Charges
If you are as careless as I am or living in the stone age like I am (I still prefer to pay through AXS machines, makes me feel the pain!), there may be instances where you would have forgotten or missed the payment deadline. Late payment charge of $50 + interest is the norm.
Again, CALL and request for the charges to be waived off. That's too much to pay for forgetfulness.

Again, the more business you have with them the higher the chance. However, that is also provided it doesn't happen often!

In any case, no harm trying..

Happy Saving! =)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Money Saving Tip - Parking Coupon

Another totally painless money saving tip:
What do you do if you make a mistake tearing the tabs of a parking coupon?

Stop tearing any more tabs from the parking coupon but you don't have to throw it away.
You can actually bring the parking coupon back to HDB office for a refund.
Of course, it may not be so wise to bring a 50cents coupon there specially to get a refund but if there's a HDB office around where you work or stay, why not?

Did you know this?

Monday, July 12, 2010

About Timeshare Companies and Timeshare Packages Scams

It is unfortunate that the Timeshare industry is getting all the negative publicity with its hard-sell tactics, false promises, unfair practices and misrepresentations. Timeshare, from what I understand, is supposed to be a good thing.  You pay for packages which gives you discounts and a certain number of days of free stays at selected places. It is a win-win situation, you get your discounted travel packages, and accommodation providers fill their capacities. 

As in most cases such as land banking blogged about previously Land Banking- Land International (Far East) and Land Banking in the spotlight again? - Profitable Group, it is the unscrupulous people who give the industry the negative publicity. Timshare firms have topped Consumers Association of Singapore’s (Case) complaints list for the past five years with more than 2,000 complaints annually because of its hard-sell tactics.

It was reported in two articles last month – Travel Agency warns against timeshare firms (The Straits Times, June 18 2010) and Timeshare firm told to stop tactics (The Straits Times, June 19 2010).
In the latter article, the subordinate courts of Singapore actually ordered Garraway Enterprises to “stop making false promises to customers”. For the court to order that, that really says something. Victims paid between $2,998 and $80,000 for the fake packages with the total claims made by the customers against Garraway Enterprises amounting to $887,000. Who knows how much more went unreported?

How did the ploy work?
People were approached on the streets with Scratch-and-Win cards, prizes include $1,000 cash and digital camcorder. (Not sure if they still operate the same way now, but in the past I always see these people at the pavement walk near Ngee Ann City. Anybody who stopped to do the Scratch-and-Win cards ALWAYS seem to win something! Then comes part 2, the representative will jump up-and-down and proclaim “Oh my, you are so lucky!” and another “supervisor” comes along and does the same thing.)
For Garraway Enterprises, people who “won” prizes have to collect them in Ngee Ann City where their office is located. (Which may explain why they used to operate on Ngee Ann City pavement walk?)
There have also been cases as reported in Travel Agency warns against timeshare firms of companies posing as subsidiaries or affiliates of reputable travel companies offering free or discounted travel packages as baits.
In both cases, when they reach the offices, they will be asked to sit through hours of presentations where they will be hard-sold and in some cases even barred from leaving till they succumb to the hard-sell tactics.
After signing for packages, that is where they realize the discounted packages may cost the same or even more than those booked from travel agencies and unfulfilled promises.

The good news?
Companies who have been ordered by the court to stop such practices will be in contempt of court if they continue to do so.

The bad news?
The unscrupulous people behind the scams can just close the company down and continue under a different company.

The scary news?
There have been reports in the past where the cruelty of some devious people can be really scary. After some people fall for the scams and are cheated of their money to buy timeshare packages which they never got the chance to utilize due to the false promises, they would receive calls from companies who express sympathy to their plight. These scammers will then promise the victims that they can help them sell their timeshare packages or get refunds from the timeshare companies. Of course, these offers came with a fee. After paying the fees, the victims realize they are still stuck with the same timeshare packages and are now even poorer for it. That’s really double whammy and a demonstration of cross-selling in marketing terms in a negative way!

As usual, before parting ways with your hard-earned money, always do your own checks.
For people who claim to represent, is affiliated to or is a subsidiary of any company, contact the company to verify.  

Monday, July 5, 2010

Another Scam with Singaporeans among the Victims

Singaporeans among HK scam victims – The Straits Times, Monday June 28 2010. HK$21 million (SGD$3.75 million) from 160 victims with one victim reported as paying to the Hong Kong gang scammers HK$3 million which is about SGD$536,000! Victims were ethnic Chinese from countries living in Australia, New Zealand, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore.

How did the scam work? 
Phone calls or E-mails were made to the victims either promoting investments that promised high guaranteed returns or congratulating the victims on winning the top prize of a lottery or lucky draw.

The catch? 
To receive the winnings or investment returns, victims have to pay an “administrative fee” to a bank account. 

Based on past scams reported, usually these victims had not even entered into any lottery or lucky draw when they were informed of winning such prizes. Variations to these scams include having to pay for “taxes”, “release fees” or even “identification verification”. Pay an “administrative fee” and it will be followed by some issue of “taxes” where more payment is needed. More often than not, it involves a few of such payments which may explain why some victims can be duped of SGD$536,000. 

My main concern when reading this article?
They have now made it more believable by adding a step to their modus operandi. 
For lotteries or lucky draws, they will now send emails or call victims to participate in a survey. To thank them for participating in the survey, they will be informed if they win a prize.
For Investments, the scammers actually befriend the victims online on social networking websites and building the friendship before persuading them to make the “investments”! 

As usual, before you part with any of your hard-earned money, always do your own checks. Anything that sounds too good to be true, probably is.
Help share this to avoid having loved ones fall victim to the scams.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

S$409,000 to lunch with "the most well-known loser"

Another inspiring story to remind ourselves... NEVER EVER GIVE UP! You may have to suffer some setbacks, you may have to take a different path, you may even have to do something totally different but if you can keep on fighting, you can still get the success you deserve.

Shi Yuzhu was known as "the most well-known loser" in China when he ended up in debt to the tune of 200million yuan (thats currently about SGD$41,217,243.80!!!!) after his company collapsed in 1997. I am sure there would have been many nay-sayers and people who shunned him. How easy it would have been to give up then and I am sure nobody would have blamed him. How many of us would have given up then?

Well, luckily he didn't give up. It took him seven years from his "loser" status to going on to found Giant Interactive a online game developer and operator in China in 2004. Giant Interactive got listed in New York in 2007! Not bad for a "most well-know loser"!

Now? A Warren Buffett style power lunch auction with Mr Shi Yuzhu was won with a bid of 2 million yuan (S$409,000)! The proceeds from the winning bid goes to Charity, of course. At number 616 in Forbes World's Billionaires List in 2010 with US$1.6Billion net worth, he doesn't need it! I'm cheap, you can have lunch with me for $409! Proceeds will naturally.. go to me!!.. I'm not on any list just yet...

Buffett-style lunch with Chinese Billionaire - Sunday Times 20 Jun 2010