Hundreds of Chinese scammed

Over 300 Chinese in New York have sought help from the Ling Sing Association after being victimized in a pyramid scheme.   They held a meeting on Sept. 25, during which 80 percent of the victims decided to try to bring Lam Yeung, the CEO of Haman International Art Inc., to justice.

The total number of victims is estimated to be as high as 4,000. They have lost anywhere from $11,000 to $100,000. The Haman Group disappeared before the scheme was exposed.

Many of the victims are female. Man-Sang Chiu, advisor at the Ling Sing Association (LSA), told those present that he was able to reach the Chinatown representative at Haman, Kam-Tung Au-Yeung, and they met just a few hours earlier. According to Au-Yeung, Yeung is currently in China, but he promised to return the money to investors by the end of this year. Chiu said that they had located two bank accounts under Yeung’s name, one belonging to the Haman Group, another to  a temple.

Chiu suggested they should tell Yeung to give all the money back, or they would bring him to court.

Saying they would have to resort to legal means, the victims said they have been waiting for a long time and they don’t believe that Yeung will return the money.

Most of the investors were introduced by family and friends to Haman International Art Inc., which was established in January. The company has branches and managers in both Chinatown and Flushing. According to one of the victims, Mrs. Chow, Yeung persuaded them by saying that every member only had to invest an initial $11,000, which would help run the company’s antique auctions. Investors would receive compensation of $100 a day. The more people a member recruited, the more payments they would receive – up to $50 every day  for life.  Many on the verge of retirement invested their life savings in the company.

Yu-Fen Liao from Taiwan presented a receipt written by Yeung. She joined the “scheme” in April and invested $55,000 for her son and herself; she also brought in three friends. Liao said it felt risky, so she planned to quit after receiving back her initial investment plus a small profit. However, she had received only $30,000 when the company evaporated and had lost more than $20,000.

Mrs. Zhang, from Shanghai, said that while she believed the deal was too good to be true, her husband thought it would be a good investment. They put in $22,000 right before the company closed and got back just $2,000.

Another victim, Mr. Chan, also said he had been skeptical but didn’t want to miss a good opportunity. He planned to back out after a few months. According to Chan, the money was supposed to be transferred to his account on June 19, but the company continued postponing the paymen,t claiming they were in the middle of a “crisis.” Since then, Yeung has not been reachable by cell phone and has completely disappeared.

Mrs. Shiu, while holding a $90,000 receipt, said that the amount included investments from her family and friends. The receipt has no terms; it simply lists the items her money was used to invest in, such as watches and jewelry, along with the company seal. Shiu also said that the so-called “watches” and “jewelry” are not real antiques but just cheap souvenirs.

At the meeting, Chiu asked victims to take a stand, and 80 percent of them raised their hands in support of suing Haman International Art Inc. They wrote down their names and phone numbers. They hoped that with such a large number of people involved,  working together woulod prove more effective than working individually.

According to Chiu, it is believed there are more victims who haven’t come forward because of their legal status. Many may come from the Fuzhou region in China. He appealed to these people to approach the LSA for help.

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