More Than Beans Were Spilled
I heard of a guy that got taken for US$24.7 million on one of these scams. There was a slightly different twist than in the other stories you referenced, in that when the victim (sucker) got to London, he was approached by what he thought was an outside party.
This "outsider" claimed to know both the system and the scammers, and said that he could offer an even better deal. Greed setting in, the sucker returned to the original scammer (who, at least when in Bangkok, goes by the name of Anthony Atkinson), and wants his money back.
Atkinson and his cohorts got the investor to admit he discussed the deal with the "outsider" then immediately invoked the Confidentiality Agreement, and advised him that he had violated the rules and had therefore forfeited all his money.
According to second hand information I had at the time, most of the money had come from mainland China's Bank of Agriculture, but I cannot confirm this. I am also unable to confirm if the victim is still alive, but I believe that the odds are not very high in his favor.
There is an on-going Ponzi foreign exchange trading scam now in Thailand affecting people elsewhere. Estimates of the amounts involved range from $5 million to over $300 million which I think is a stretch, considering that there are only 445 people who have contributed their money and hopes, and in amounts far less than $1 million each. It is run by a Brit appropriately named John Henry Morgan. But as James Clavell said in "Noble House", "...scratch a Brit, and get a pirate..."
To me the term "pirate" is the wrong word. How about
just plain thief? Calling these scammers pirates is like glorifying
the louse. And the media does enough of that.
Morgan got some people in Saudi who were making good money, and promised them a high return. He was a self-proclaimed expert on trading foreign currency. As he built up a list of "investors", he paid one person (their claim - not verified) $1 million and another $600,000.
Of course these people spread the word, got their friends involved and the pool grew by leaps and bounds. See Ponzi Schemes. A number of guys made their retirement plans based on the "check in the mail", and all of a sudden - silence.
Then after many phone calls to an intermediary who could only say he can contact Morgan but is not allowed to give his contact number, there were promises of "just wait until November. As November faded away into the setting sun of January, March, etc, the next promise was for July.
This cycle is now at least in its second year. The latest change is that Morgan plans to sell his cars and houses to pay people. Sure - then he will disappear for good, or maybe he is lying about that also.
I have been unable to locate anything on the web about this scam,
and unless Morgan's ego is blown way up, there is no reason for
him to start a web site. The whole thing has been done by word
of mouth to date.
I believe that the money is now well hidden except for some ostentatious cars and houses in Thailand.
As you might know, one of the largest scams around Asia is the boiler room scams. As far as I can tell, even after a police/FBI/Aussie police bust in July 2001, most are back in operation and again stealing money from mostly Aussies and New Zealanders.
It is illegal to make cold calls in Australia, so they use Thailand,
Philippines, Hong Kong, etc as bases. A long distance call is cheap
compared to the $10-20,000 that they can steal with one successful
Name Withheld 02/02
I just wanted to add some more details to the scam in Bangkok.
Mr. John Henry Morgan and his wife Surindar ran a company called Houston Associates, Ltd. (Not to be confused with legal companies like Houston Associates, Inc.) His cohort was a Canadian named Stuart R. McLean.
Among many people fleeced, myself included, was an man who recently lost his arm and eye from a letter bomb at a middle east hospital. While this individual certainly needs his investment returned, sadly to say everything is probably hidden in an offshore account.
Jay Keller 08/31/02
I am one of the victims in the Morgan scam. I was one who believed Morgan, and at my age thought I was a better judge of character and of people that most.
I met John Morgan and Stuart R MacLean at the seminar they arranged in Feb.2000 in Bahrain. John Morgan is currently in a remand prison in Bangkok. Stuart has gone underground. The investors have formed a group and filed fraud charges against him in civil court.
The action is recent and still underway. One of the problems that we investors have experienced has been poor communication. Rumors and false stories have been the biggest problem.
As I am sure you are aware there are many victims in these scams. Families break up, children are forced to quit school, medical problems, and victims too old to seek work. They are the lowest form of human.
Name withheld, Thailand 11/07/02
A Sale on Sand in Saudi
While working in Saudi, I became involved in the John Henry Morgan
(Houston Associates) scheme, in which I made an initial investment
I, like many other investors, became involved in this scheme by word of mouth. This was an answer to our retirement dilemma, which was nonexistent on overseas contracts.
I, like about 100 other people, met with John Morgan and Stuart McLean, at the Bahrain investor's meeting. This was my first face to face meeting with John and Stuart. During this meeting, John put to good use his apparent education because he presented a seemingly factual scenario that was both interesting and informative. Of all the people who attended this meeting, to whom I spoke later, no one could find any flaws in his presentation. I recorded this meeting and replayed it on numerous occasions for mine and other people's benefits. For the lay person, we could find no points of conflict.
The investors to whom I had contact, were under the impression that John was the sole investor of monies in this scheme and that Stuart, along with one or two ex-patriots, were involved in the actual disbursement of funds generated by John's investing. We also understood that John had an office and staff in Bangkok. This was further verified by several investors who went to Thailand
and met with John.
In your previous email posting, you mentioned several people receiving monies to make this scam seem believable. I know of at least two additional people, one of which received $250,000.00 on two occasions and one person, who received $500,000.00. These were both American investors, who worked in Saudi Arabia.
You mentioned in the email posting how this affected investors in their retirement years. I am one of this group and at my age, it is too late to start over so I will be forced to try to live on Social Security, which is a problem as it limits the amount of money I can earn without affecting my Social Security payments.
I appreciate you bringing this to people's attention so maybe it will prevent other people from being involved in a scam similar to this.
Harley Smith 06/19/03