Stock commentator targeted as investors lose on claw machines

May 14, 2019 17:07
The Democratic Party says it has received complaints from more than a 100 people who were lured into a claw machine investment scheme through false promises. Photo: i-Cable News

Stock market commentator and internet celebrity Raymond Yuen Ping-fai is facing accusations that he misled dozens of his followers into investing in app-linked claw machines with the promise of hefty returns that never materialized.

The Democratic Party said on Monday that it has received complaints from more than 100 people who claimed that Yuen, who offers online commentaries on stock market trends under the pseudonym “For Liu Sam”, talked them into investing in new type of crane machines that connect to the internet and allow players to pick up toys using a mobile app and later exchange the items for bitcoin or cash.

According to the party, the victims, aged 25 to 60, claimed that they were told such machines only cost between HK$85,000 and HK$100,000 each and are able to generate income of at least HK$10,000 each month for the investors, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Lured by the potential profit, people signed contracts with two companies -- Secret Technology and Mighty Lucky International -- for purchase of the claw machines, based on the recommendations of Yuen.

One individual is said to have invested as much as HK$1.6 million in the scheme.

However, it turned out that the investors only earned monthly income in tens of Hong Kong dollars from the machines operated by the companies, far less than what Yuen promised.

Feeling cheated, the victims, who the Democratic Party said lost a combined amount of more than HK$30 million, went to the two companies to find out where the machines were located and get details on their operating data.

However, the firms refused to provide the information, according to the party.

Several aggrieved investors then filed police reports.

Police confirmed they received reports from 32 men and 10 women, aged 25 to 50, since November last year, involving an amount of around HK$24 million in total. No arrests have been made so far.

The Democratic Party said it had received more than 100 cases of assistance sought by the victims. Ramon Yuen Hoi-man, deputy spokesman for the party’s financial policy panel and a member of Sham Shui Po District Council, said Raymond Yuen might have been involved in suspected misrepresentation.

Since the scheme likely considered collective investment, it should be regulated by the Securities and Futures Commission, according to Ramon Yuen, who is a chartered financial analyst.

In a statement, Mighty Lucky insisted that it has never made any promise to investors on the guaranteed return of the machines, and also said that it is not owned by Raymond Yuen.

The company said its lawyer representative has contacted Ramon Yuen in relation to the accusations, but is yet to receive a response.

A lawyer pointed out that it would be unwise on the part of the victims if they had not read the terms carefully when they signed the purchase contract, ignoring a contractual term which specifies that the contract they sign will replace all previous oral or written agreements or statements.

Also, Raymond Yuen did not sign the contract, either.

The claw machine saga marks the second time that Raymond Yuen has been accused of pulling a scam.

In November last year, Yuen was accused of swindling investors after he allegedly failed to deliver on his promise of a decent return in a cryptocurrency mining deal. 

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