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22 people allegedly lose over $200k after investments in vending machines go up in smoke

22 people allegedly lose over $200k after investments in vending machines go up in smoke
More than 22 people have lost $200,000 after CloudRetail reportedly went bust.
PHOTO: Shin Min Daily News

When a woman saw an advertisement claiming that she could earn money from renting out vending machines, she thought it was a good investment opportunity. 

After paying more than $8,000, however, Wang Meiling (transliteration) realised it might be a sham. 

The 52-year-old, who is self-employed, told Shin Min Daily News that she signed a contract with a company named CloudRetail on Dec 4 last year. 

She was told that CloudRetail would help investors open a company in Hong Kong, and apply for a government grant to purchase three vending machines, which they could rent out and receive earnings. 

CloudRetail also claimed that they had offices in Hong Kong, Australia, China and Malaysia, and worked with reputable brands such as Chow Tai Fook, Royce Chocolate, Samsung Pay and Giordano. 

To start on her 'investment', Wang had to pay a sum of $11,000.

"I made a $3,110 down payment, and paid the remaining amount in six installments of $1,315 each. I've made four payments so far," she said. 

When she enquired about the progress of her grant application in January, CloudRetail informed her that she had to wait. 

Eventually, the company stopped responding to her queries in April. Wang then decided not to pay the last two installments, but received an email on Saturday (June 15) asking for payment.

"I went to their office on May 28 and realised they had closed down. I found other victims on social media and joined a WhatsApp group that has more than 22 people. 

"We lost over $200,000 in total," said Wang. 

In a fit of anger, she vandalised CloudRetail's office door.

"I told them that if they didn't return my money I would take further action. I had no other choice, so I wrote the word 'scammer' on the door and sent a photo to them." 

She even taunted a staff member to call the police, but they did not respond to her. 

Wang said she was asked to give a statement at the police station after the company made a police report. 

Another woman, surnamed Goh, told Shin Min that she lost $9,830 after signing a contract with CloudRetail in December 2022. 

The 37-year-old said that the company delayed their payments to her, saying that there were some issues over in Hong Kong. 

When she tried to terminate her contract in February this year, she was told she would only get $7,000 back. However, she was not allowed to terminate the contract. 

It wasn't until Goh said she wanted to go to the Small Claims Tribunals that the company offered to let her transfer her contract to someone else. 

However, they did not specify who the contract would be transferred to, or how much compensation she would receive. The matter has not been resolved, Goh said. 

Goh told AsiaOne that she has made a police report against CloudRetail. 

The police confirmed that a report was made and investigations are ongoing. 

According to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority's records, CloudRetail is a live company.

An event was also reportedly held in Malaysia recently to look for investors. 

Company allegedly defaulted on employee's CPF payments 

In the the WhatsApp group that Wang joined, a former CloudRetail employee reportedly said that the company has not paid his CPF contributions since January. 

He only realised that they defaulted on payments when he resigned. 

Another employee in the group chat also said that the company recently dismissed all employees in Singapore. 

When a Shin Min reporter visited CloudRetail's office at 111 Somerset on Sunday, there was a notice on the door stating that the unit had been seized by the building's management. 

There was also a lawyer's letter on the ground, believed to be sent by investors who lost their money. 

CloudRetail did not answer AsiaOne's phone calls on Tuesday. 

AsiaOne has contacted Hanley Li, the founder of CloudRetail for more information.

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