PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The face of a 26-year-old self-made "millionaire" from China has been appearing in billboards across Malaysia promoting his get-rich-quick scheme.
But the Chinese Embassy in Malaysia says his company Yun Shu Mao has been banned in China and its founder Zhang Jian has been hauled up by police there five times.
The company's ads on the Internet tell people that they can earn big money and drive fancy cars without having to work. It also boasts of creating millionaires around the world.
By merely investing RM300 (S$117), investors are guaranteed an income of between RM2,700 and RM6,800 per month - without lifting a finger.
According to reports, Zhang claims himself to be "the future richest man in the world" and China's youngest self-made millionaire.
Police sources believed there could be criminal elements in the scheme, which falls under the jurisdiction of Bank Negara.
A check on several Chinese websites showed that netizens in China have posted the excerpt of an article on the top 10 MLM cases from the websites of China's Public Security Bureau and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, citing that the operator of a Yun Shu Mao website was coercing fees from downliners who would receive huge rewards in return.
The article reported that Chinese authorities said the scheme had expanded to 28 provinces involving 190,000 people and that in August last year, police in eight provinces detained 33 persons involved in the scheme.
Chinese laws prohibit any individual or company from carrying out multi-level marketing or pyramid schemes in the country.
Other netizens also claimed that the founder of Yun Shu Mao changed his name to Zhang Jian and had since fled to Malaysia.
An online news portal has quoted Gabungan Sukarelawan 1Malaysia (GS1M) adviser Datuk Ng Bong Ching as saying there have been police reports lodged against the scheme.
He said he had cross-checked the reports with the Chinese embassy.
The online news portal also reported that in January this year, a get-rich-quick scam operated by a Chinese national in his mid-20s had seen about 10,000 people losing some RM20 million.
Victims are attracted to the scheme as it promised them luxury cars and cash within a short period. According to an ad placed by the company, a member has to pay RM300 to sign up.
For every member he recruits, he will be paid RM50 per person until the sixth level.
Beyond the sixth level, the member will have to top up his membership fee to a maximum of RM30,000 to continue enjoying the benefits.
Members are also promised stock returns through e-shares and luxury items, including BMW cars, through lucky draws when they reached a certain stage of recruitment.
Meanwhile, a 15-minute video clip on YouTube shows the businessman telling an interviewer that Malaysia was chosen because of its multi-lingual population.
He said he would conduct his business model via the multi-level marketing scheme, adding that 10 per cent of China's richest men had gained their wealth online.
"Last year, it took us only nine months to get 30 million members. This year, we broke the record, hitting 100 million. No matter what type of businesses you are venturing into, you need to have crowd. Without the crowd, how are you going to operate and gain revenue?" he said in the interview released on March 19 this year.
China's Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang said earlier that the Chinese embassy was following closely the controversy arising from the so-called get-rich-quick scheme.
The Chinese national had a run-in with the law over his get-rich-quick scam through his business empire known as Yun Shu Mao.
He reminded Malaysian investors to be smart and to understand any plan well before joining an investment scheme.
Kwong Wah Yit Poh reported that the Selangor Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Department had started to investigate Yun Shu Mao under the Direct Sales and Anti-Pyramid Scheme Act 1993 five months ago.