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Man falls for investment scam using charity organisation chairman's name, loses more than $20k

Man falls for investment scam using charity organisation chairman's name, loses more than $20k
Wang lost $20k after falling for an investment scam using the name of a Sian Chay Medical Institution.
PHOTO: Shin Min Daily News

A man thought he'd be making money, but ended up having more than $20,000 wiped from his bank account. 

Wang (not his real name) told Shin Min Daily News that he came across a Facebook post advertising an investment scheme in mid-April.

The post featured the photo of Toh Soon Huat, chairman of Sian Chay Medical Institution. This gave Wang the impression that it was a legitimate investment scheme.

After he responded to the ad, Wang was added to a WhatsApp group chat. He was told that Toh's assistant, Xiao Yan, would assist him with the investment. 

"[Xiao Yan] sent many messages about earning money to the group chat, and asked me to download a mobile app to start investing. I was told that I would definitely earn money," Wang said. 

After much persuasion from the woman, he ended up making five transactions in the app, investing more than $20,000 in total.

Even though Wang saw that he was earning money on the app, he had a feeling that there was something fishy going on. 

"I noticed that the person named 'Toh Soon Huat' in the group chat had changed his phone number. When I asked him about it, he explained that he did so because he was being harassed," Wang said. 

Wang also asked Xiao Yan why there were several Malaysian phone numbers in the group chat. The latter said it was because Toh often travelled to Malaysia to do charity work, and that attracted Malaysian investors. 

Filled with doubts, Wang visited Sian Chay Medical Institution thrice, asking if he could speak to Toh. 

The charity's chairman told Shin Min that Wang only realised he'd been cheated after he showed him the WhatsApp messages. Toh also accompanied Wang to the police station to file a report. 

Toh stressed that he was never involved in such investments, and urged members of the public to be more vigilant. 

Charity makes police report

To warn the public of the investment scam that impersonated Toh, Sian Chay Medical Institution published a notice on its Facebook page on May 1. 

"After verification, the Facebook page/advertisement was found to use the photo of Chairman Toh Soon Huat to deceive the public," the charity said.

Besides alerting Facebook and the police to the scam, Sian Chay also published a newspaper announcement on May 1 to clarify the matter.

"As a large-scale social service agency, Sian Chay's Facebook page boasts 85,000 followers.

"Many of our beneficiaries are elderly, we are concerned about their susceptibility to scam. We urge the public to stay vigilant against the various scam circulating in the market to protect themselves from financial losses."

In April, Shin Min reported that some scammers pretending to be a Malaysian media outlet also used Toh's photo to publish fake advertisements. Toh said he made a police report after learning about the scam. 

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