I refer to the article on Debt Collectors published on Straits Times on 12 November where Straits Times reporters followed JMS Rogers debt recovery company to 4 debtors’ houses. There has been a lot of buzz recently on this matter and the attention seems to be on the plight of the debtors. Everyone seems to pity the debtors whom the victims have given money to, based on trust, only to find the trust being broken. I’m one such poor soul who believed the word of a friend when he promised good investment returns only to get nothing and losing everything I’ve worked hard for. My peace, my financial stability, my nest egg, the cash I kept for the delivery of my first born child, I have put aside and soon, probably my sanity.
And, that debtor is none other than the last house that the reporters went to in Toa Payoh. The debtor Ananthan Thillagan is an ex-police officer and was also Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s bodyguard and also Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s ex-bodyguard. And when he swindled me off my money in January this year, he was working as a special aide to former President Mr SR. Nathan. While working as a special aide, he was also working in an investment company called Profit On Land. This confidence trickster spun webs of tales and deceit effortlessly. And because he was working for people in power, he often threw names of powerful people to reinforce this web. I mean who would doubt the integrity of someone who is working as a special aide to a former president, especially more so in Singapore where the authorities would have done sufficient background checks on him prior to his appointment. Also, his wife worked for the Attorney General’s Chamber as an Assistant Director. They drove a Lexus and went on lavish holidays, even booking a junior suite at Ritz Carlton for their birthdays.
In December last year, during one of our usual catch up sessions, Ananthan spoke to me and my wife about investing in Profit On Land and he told us that the returns are good and the capital is guaranteed. At that time, we had a small amount of savings for rainy days and we were planning to have a baby, therefore we had set aside a little extra for the maternity expenses. He presented to us all the different products that Profit On Land has and we began to show some interest as we were attracted to the monthly payouts. Since my wife and me were both in sales and were purely commission based, we felt the monthly payments will be helpful in providing us with an additional, consistent stream of income. We then told him we were interested and will discuss how much we can invest and get back to him. He told us to go for at least $20,000 so that the monthly returns will be good enough to support any potential loss of income when my wife becomes pregnant and during the initial few months after delivery.
A couple of days later, we told him we are keen to invest $20,000. Immediately he said he will get everything ready and get back to us. The next day, he called us and said that he got an insider scoop, that Profit On Land is launching a new product in January with better returns than the current product. He explained that this is part of the company’s strategy in product improvement and diversification. And the interest he told us for the new product, was 1.5 times of what he originally presented. He told us to hold on to the money and once he has more details he will quickly put us in the queue for the new product. On Christmas Eve, he called us and said that the product is confirmed going to be launched in January and at the same 1.5 times interest rate of the current available product that he mentioned and instead of just a pure land bank which they currently used, the company is investing into gold mines in Papua New Guinea; thats why they are able to give better returns. He also mentioned that he has also spoken about this to some of Mr SR. Nathan’s contacts and they seem quite keen. However, he said because the product is now better enhanced and the company is going into a bigger project, the minimum capital for investment is $40,000.
We were a little dejected as it was double the amount that we were prepared to invest. We also questioned him as to why the minimum capital has been increased so much when the interest is only 1.5 times more. He explained that gold is a very very safe form of investment and that it is even better than land. As land can always be devalued by local authorities or the local government, whereas gold price is determined by international market forces. He also rationalized that being an internationally traded commodity with deep traditional values, gold will always be in demand. He also said that right now gold price is at a low point and over the next few years it is set to rise as the US dollar increases in value. We were comforted by his answers as we felt that he was quite well versed in this investment product and the company has moved into the correct market. However, we were still undecided whether we want to put out such a huge amount. He told us not to worry as Profit On Land has a paid up capital of $5 million dollars and if anything happens to the investment they will payout from this capital.
We told him we will get back to him on this. We now had to decide whether we we want to invest almost all our savings or just leave it as it is. It was a tough choice because we wanted to give the best to our first child. And the promised monthly payout for the $40,000 will definitely help us pay some of our bills. It was a very hard decision but we finally decided that we will go ahead. After all, if Mr SR Nathan’s personal contacts find this investment good, it should be good right?
So on Christmas Day we called him and told him that we will proceed with the minimum investment sum of $40,000. Immediately he told us that we have made the best decision of our lives and we can now peacefully focus on starting our family. He also told us to get the money ready and he will put on the VIP list for the launch day. On the 3rd of January he called me and told me that he wanted to meet up with me. He said he has very very good news about the investment that he wanted to share with me urgently. We met up with him and he told us that he wanted to share something very very exclusive with us. He told us that he’s sharing this with us because he wanted to help us through parenthood by creating a sustainable income stream for us. And that he only shares this with people very very close to him.
He told us that in the course of his work, as a bodyguard to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Lee Hsien Leung and now as a special aide to former president Mr SR Nathan, he has met and known powerful people within the inner circle of these politicians. And he said these are the ultra rich who have income generating vehicles with astronomical returns. He said that his recent financial success came about because of him being given access to these vehicles. And he said that he has out in some of his own money and some of the powerful contacts he personally knows, into this vehicle and he has been collecting monthly returns ever since. He said that these returns is the one paying for his Lexus and all his luxury holidays and branded items. He also said that in the next one year he’s buying a landed property for his wife and 3 kids and a Mercedes S Class for himself.
He said he wanted to retire young and wealthy and that he’s very happy that he’s fortunate to have found this vehicle to fulfill his dreams. He told me that he’s going to give me an opportunity of a lifetime to gain access through him into this vehicle. He told me that I have to put in a minimum of $50,000 and I will get 15% returns in cash every month. I was shocked and dumb founded for a moment perhaps even tongue tied. I didn’t know where to begin. I was both confused and elated. Composing myself, I asked him how safe is this. His reply was curt and short – “if the Minister of Trade and Industry is putting his money in, how safe do you think this is?” I then asked him what’s his role in this. He said he’s both a giver and a gate keeper. I told him I didn’t understand. He said when he was given the opportunity to gain access to this vehicle, he was told to only give deserving people to have access to this vehicle. Then I asked him how many people he has given this opportunity to. He said not many but the people I know have put about $700,000 through me into this vehicle and they are now enjoying life better than ever. He said if you don’t believe I will personally guarantee you; I will give a personal guarantee written down. He told me one more thing – “by the end of this year my family will be in a landed property and I will be driving an S Class. What do you want to achieve by the end of the year?” At that moment, I felt a door opening and a world of opportunities, hopes and dreams welcoming me through. $50,000 will be my entire nest egg which I worked many years to save up for.
It will be very tough for me to part with that money for investment but if that’s going to give me and my family a better life, a better hope and a better future, I told myself that I have to be prepared to take the leap of faith. One last question I had for him is – what is this vehicle about. He told me its wholesale gold trading. They buy gold in bulk from gold mines, stock pile them and release them to countries where the demand is very very high. He told me the technical term was “gold arbitrage”. He told me that this entire vehicle is valued at $300 million and quite a large chunk of it belongs to politicians including his current boss. He also said this was why his boss had properties in Sentosa Cove. He reemphasized that gold will always be in demand and that’s why the ultra rich always dabble in gold. The talk of gold and that our local politicians’ money is also being invested in this vehicle, instantly gave me the assurance that my money is going to be safe and that indeed I’m very blessed to have received this opportunity. I decided to go for it. He told me he will prepare a simple paperwork and that I will need to make the payment on 13th January and following that, every month I will receive the interest. With a heavy heart and lots of hope, I parted with my nest egg of $50,000 to him.
A week before the pay date, I called him to ask and confirm that the payment will be made on time. He told me not to worry as this is 100% safe and we will get our payment on time. In the day of the payment, I called him at noon and he told me he’s waiting for the amount to come into his account before he can pass to me. There was not other calls after that from him. I called him in the evening and he did not pick up my calls. I pressed on and at about 10pm I got through him. He apologized and told me he was busy with Mr SR. Nathan’s function that’s why he couldn’t pick up the call. He said that the payment was delayed because one of the offshore accounts required additional paperwork to move the money out. He said that he just got the information that’s why he’s sharing with me and that the money will be in the next day. The next day at about noon, I called him several times again and he sent me a message saying he’s busy and that he will call back. But he never called back. I messaged him several times asking if the money was in. He only replied he will talk to me later. That day there were no other calls from him. The next day, I started calling him in the morning and messaging him and asking what was happening and when I will get my payout. I was very stressed and worried because it was my entire nest egg which I worked very hard for to save up. He never replied. I messaged him that I’m coming down to his house at Toa Payoh at 7pm to meet him. Within an hour he called back and sounded very frustrated and said that this is the fist time the delay had taken so long and that he’s trying to get answers but the people involved are not giving him answers fast enough. He said he was annoyed with them as this situation is very unfair to the people who trusted him and put money for him. He said he will get to the bottom of this and get back to me as soon as he gets some answers. He also assured me not to worry as he personally guaranteed my capital amount. Instantly I felt assured that he was looking out for me and that he’s honoring his word to personally guarantee my capital.
2 days later he called me and told me that there was a cock up with 1 of the offshore accounts and that’s why the ones got stuck and it will take at least 2-3 weeks to resolve that. However in the meantime, they are releasing funds from another offshore account from Dubai and that it will take about 7-10 days to come to Singapore. And he told me not worry; this time it will come in.
Feeling more assured, I decided to wait for the payout. About 3 days before the promised payout, he called me and said that the money is coming in and it will be on time. I called him one day earlier and he still maintained that the money will reach his contact on time and he will be meeting him at 5pm to collect and will meet me at 7pm. That day at 4pm I called him and again he assured that he is meeting his contact at 5pm to collect. At 6pm I called him to check where is he going to meet me to pass the cash, he started cutting the calls. Thinking he was talking to someone, I messaged him to check for the location to meet. There was no reply. We were getting worried. We frantically called him from6.30pm till 9.30pm about 20 times and all calls went unanswered. We started to panic. Finally he called back at 10.45pm and told us that he was trying to reach his contact during this while and thats why he was unable to take any calls. His contact had to rush into Malaysia for some urgent work and so he had not withdrawn the cash to pay. he informed me that the contact will be back tomorrow afternoon and he will sure collect the money from him. He assured that nothing was wrong and everything was fine and the money is in Singapore now. We felt a little relived but still worried as we still had not gotten our payout for almost 2 weeks now.
The next day he called me in the morning and asked to meet me. I asked him if everything was fine and he said it was. I met him just below his house at Toa Payoh. He told me that for some stupid reason, the contact had again delayed the payment. I immediately asked him about the $50,000. He said not to worry as he had already asked the contact to return him back everything. He said he had lost confidence in this vehicle after these delays and will be taking out everything his people had pooled with him. He said in the meantime as a show of his sincerity, he will give a cheque in my name for $40,000 as a holding sum until the money comes in and he pays me. He told me not to cash the cheque yet as he does not have enough in his account yet. Seeing the cheque of $40,000 in my name, I felt better and assured that he was serious about getting back the money. He also told me that he will get back everything in 1 week. Before I left I asked him what happens to all the politician’s money. He said that they had made enough so they won’t mind the delays.
Though initially assured, a few days later and after much consideration and self reflection, I began to realise that all the things he had said to convince me and assure me are not easy to verify and that I had purely trusted him and believed what he said. And that I had believed him due to his sudden “success”, his supposed association with politicians and his convincing sales pitch. I began to realise that if this was a con job, I am totally screwed. Every day and night of waiting was like hell. Many times I woke up in the middle of the night breaking out in cold sweat. The fear of losing all the hard earned money we had toiled hard to save was unbearable. During that torturous one week I got one piece of elating news. My wife was finally pregnant. Despite the joy we felt, the fear of losing the money became worse. I called him on the 5th day of waiting and asked him whether the money is in. He said that the money will be in and not to worry. This time I stopped being accommodating and told him that I want the money in 2 days or else I will come up to his house. He just laughed it off and told me to not worry. I felt that he was just trying to buy time and I decided to test his story. I asked him sternly to tell me the truth about the money. He stopped for a moment and told me that the money will come in 2 days. I told him to stop his crap and tell me the truth. He told me not to worry and he will definitely get the money for. I told him to stop his crap and that his game was up and I want my money back and I wanted every single cent. He told me he will pay me back. By now it was end March.
To cut the long story short, he still had not paid me back a single cent. He is still happily living his Toa Payoh HDB Executive Apartment with his wife and children and maid. All attempts to recover the money is met with disappointments and heartaches. He kept pulling so many bluffs that I wondered if he earned $10 per bluff, he could have paid me in full by now. I even offered him to give in instalments and even that failed and he did not give a cent after promising to pay. Every time he promise to pay, the money never came. He kept saying he is approaching people to pay and they are keen to help him and in the end he got played out, *sigh. The best bluff was that his uncle Balaguru from Dubai is willing to help and he is coming down to make full payment. When we went down, we found that to be a bluff and he had actually brought down some gangsters to talk us into walking away with nothing. It was then that I realised that he was out to con me, knowing that I had money to invest. I also realised that he was not intending to pay me back.
All the while for about four months, I just kept asking Ananthan to pay up and not a single time he had made attempts to pay me something. I didn’t want to push beyond that as I still treated him as a friend with a family to feed. However bringing down gangsters opened my eyes to the real world. Even those whom you treat as a friend and trust can have the heart to cheat you. At that point, I wanted to get back my money and I knew that if I continued what I was doing, it was going to lead nowhere. I spoke to my friends and they recommended to approach a licensed debt collector for help. After checking around I approached JMS Rogers for help. Even then after 3 months Ananthan is still giving all false promises and kept breaking promises to pay.
Frankly looking at the videos online and reading the comments posted, I am angered that people still support the idiots who conned victims of their money. This money is hard earned and didn’t fall from the sky. If any of them had lost their nest egg, then they will know what it feels like and the plight of the victims. Ananthan not just conned us out of our money but also dashed our peace and happiness. Beyond the financial loss, the psychological and emotional wound will take a long time to heal. My wife is due for delivery soon and we should be very happy and yet we are not all happy thanks to Ananthan. He had probably spent that money on more lavish holidays and expensive gifts for his wife and children. And the fact is that he has the means to pay this money off if he wants to but yet he will not and thats why he will always give excuses.
Everyone looks at debt collectors as the bad guys who hound debtors and persuade them to pay up. To me JMS Rogers is my last hope. I don’t care if Ananthan feels he is being disturbed during his family time or he feels embarrassed. If he was prepared to con me then he should be prepared to face the consequences. Being nice and talking to him to pay back didn’t work at all. So I have no choice. I really hope that the law would allow victims like me to strip the accused like Ananthan in a public square and whip him silly and also shame his family, but alas we claim we live in a first world country. So does that mean we have to tolerate and even support first world criminals who skirt around the law and get away with such cons ?
To my satisfaction, JMS Rogers quickly tracked him down and confronted him and have even gotten him to admit to his scam and even sign a document on a repayment plan to me. He also pleaded with them to not report him to the authorities.
However, he later changed his mind and defiantly refused to pay still.
I was too afraid to go to the police but Roger Rajan of JMS Rogers after his strong recommendation that the law will be just even if the conman was so high profiled and well-connected. He convinced me to go to the police to make an official report and blow the whistle on him so that justice can be served on him.
Please publish this story and let your readers be aware that behind every debtor who is being persuaded to pay back by licensed debt collectors, lies broken trust and promises and victims who had lost their money to such fiends and tricksters. Let my story be a stark reminder that even your close friends can be out to con you.
I do not know what will be the outcome of this case but I am hoping for the best now.