Pay just $10k for a Caribbean resort with more than 24% returns yearly? Anti-scam ad aims to educate investors

This advisory pops up when a user attempts to "invest" in the unbelievably good scheme.
This advisory pops up when a user attempts to "invest" in the unbelievably good scheme.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM SANTAQUAYRESORTS.COM.SG

SINGAPORE - Co-own a beachfront resort in the Caribbean for as little as $10,000, with 24 per cent returns per year and your capital back after two years, with 3.5 per cent commission for every referral, read the advertisements.

If this sounded too good to be true to you - congratulations, you did not fall for the investment "scam" set up by the Securities Investors Association (Singapore), in partnership with MoneySense, a national financial education programme led by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

From late March, promotions for a fictional project, SantaQuay Resorts, were put up on various social media platforms and newspapers, including The Straits Times.

The Caribbean resort boasted waterfront views and world-class facilities, with a $60 million master plan featuring 50 deluxe villas and a full suite of amenities by 2019.

It was advertised as a project by the fictional 30-year-old Santaquay Investment, which "has achieved tremendous success in developing world-class resorts and luxurious hotels".

The website, at santaquayresorts.com.sg, features a clean design and what appear to be stock images and footage, paired with copy that is barely distinguishable from genuine property investment sites - except for the incredible investment amounts and returns.

The investment amounts available on the site are: $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 and amounts above $40,000.

However, if you happened to fall for it and click through - the following message pops up: "Thank you for your interest. This is what an investment scam could look like, and you could have lost your money. There are often tell-tale signs in an investment scam. Navigate this site to find out how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from investment scams."

The site then points out the tell-tale signs and offers advice on how not be scammed.

A Facebook page for SantaQuay Resorts was set up in March. A promotional video on YouTube, posted on March 5, has more than 10,000 views and has caught the eye of some.

Facebook user Swee Yong Ku shared a link to the SantaQuay Resorts site, adding a tongue-in-cheek line: "What an awesome investment return!"

Commenter Zhiping Wu said it was "too good to be true", while Ryan Yap quipped: "That place (where) seagulls lay golden eggs?"

Retiree Lu Youli, a 64-year-old who has never invested before, told Lianhe Zaobao in a report on Saturday (April 15) that he felt the website was convincing, with its chic design and videos.

After being told it was a "scam" as part of an awareness campaign, he said: "If every victim pays $10,000, the scammer can give a sum of money to the very first batch of investors and entice them to put in more."

Mr Mai Xinfu, a 41-year-old private-hire car driver, said the investment was hard to believe and raised his suspicions.

"To get 24 per cent returns every year, and a return on capital in two years, that's impossible," he said.

The Straits Times has contacted MAS for more information.