It’s Time To Ring Fence Yourself From Being Conned – Story #5.

by Patrick Liew on July 19, 2018

It’s Time To Ring Fence Yourself From Being Conned – Story #5.

On my journey of life, I have met many con men.

They come from different background and in different shapes and sizes.

I have met so-called highly respected people who have taken off with more than just money.

Politicians who could teach a class on how to con others.

Religious leaders who didn’t walk their talk and destroy lives.

Gurus and professionals who would not blink an eye to leave others in misery, and many others.

I have to confess that I have been tempted many times to join them.

The rewards are so enticing and “enriching.”

Thankfully, my faith in and fear of our Creator kept me on the straight and narrow path.

I also loved humanity and my sleep too much to stray from the right path.

“Lord, have mercy on me and please continue to take control of my life.”

If you know what I have gone through, you may have to celebrate and at the same time, somewhat sympathize with me.

I’m in a global and trillion-dollar industry, an industry where many people became rich and wealthy directly or indirectly because of property investment.

Temptation abounds.

In such a market, I’ve seen many people buried their moral compasses.

They would do almost anything to fulfill their evil motives, means, and ends.

When I first joined the industry 200 years ago (or so it seems), I was shocked by how malpractices were almost the norm.

Practitioners even have names for malpractices like special kung-fu moves and taught them openly in public places.

Profiting at all cost seemed to be the motto in many quarters of the market.

Thankfully, over the years, governance, professionalism, standards, and quality have improved.

Yet, there are some wolves in sheepskin that are still lurking in the dark.

They are ready to pounce on the next ignorant and apathetic customer.

Over the years, I have experienced many a “property gold rush.”

Each time, I saw vultures, sharks, wolves, and snakes slipping, sneaking and snooping around bends and corners.

These dark forces waited patiently to prey on innocent victims.

In my mind, I can still see the times when people rush to “buy, Buy! BUY!!” properties like there was no tomorrow.

And the rush to “sell, Sell! SELL!!” properties like it was the end of the world.

I could never forget the buyers who consulted me after buying a property.

They asked me, “I’ve paid for the property. What did I buy?”

When I think about it, I feel like laughing but it will bring only pain to my heart.

During ups and downs of the property cycle, there were scams such as “cash back,” “cash down,” “silver bullets,” “illegal money lending” and even immoral but “legalized money lending.”

There were lots of money to be made through these schemes.

Stories floated around the market about how those schemes have minted many millionaires.

I’m glad I put in black and white that my people should not be involved with such scams.

I have also told my people openly and right into their faces:

“If I catch any of you doing anything illegal, I’ll personally drive you to the police station.

“I’ll lock you up and throw away the keys and make sure the keys can never be found.”

And then, there were times when people would buy overseas properties like birds.

They looked at the prices and said, “Cheap, cheap, cheap.”

Throughout my practice, you’ll never believe the money-making deals that were offered to me.

If I had taken the offer, I might be super-duper rich while possibly eating taxpayers-funded food at Changi Prison. Definitely not “Chen Fu Ji Restaurant” standard.

There was the countless number of times I’ve heard, “You can earn any amount of money. Just name the price.”

The price of properties that I was involved in fortunately did not include the price of my soul.

I was able to sleep well from the first day I stepped into the industry until now.

My heart is at peace.

Those who know me can tell you I oftentimes sleep more than once per day and before the count of ten – anywhere, any place, any noise, and smell…

Some of the worst and painfully-funny deals I’ve seen are for “building up your land bank, just like Donald Trump, Li Ka-Shing, the late Ng Teng Fong, and other billionaires.”

These investment properties seemed like good investments if they were not in the middle of nowhere.

You can drive miles and miles through the land without seeing a single human or any sign of civilization.

I suppose if you are a long-term investor or should I say, multi-generational investor, you should be able to generate a good return in due time.

Your great-grandchildren should be able to enjoy the fruit of your amazingly long and deep foresight.

Some of the lands that were marketed in those parts of the world were contaminated lands.

It would take millions of dollars and in Singlish a “nong nong” time before the buyers can reside on the land, let alone urbanized it.

I have personally seen lands that were zoned as conservation areas being sold to “investors.”

Those were lands that were awarded protection status by law and they could never be inhabited or developed.

The buyer would need to look for a tenant called Tarzan.

And hopefully, Tarzan has grown the size of his family to justify staying on so many tracts of land.

I’m sure there could be other potential tenants. Let me think and please call me back sometime after one hundred years later.

I can go on and on about the scams in our industry but I fear it may bring nightmares to me and more importantly, my friends reading this Love Note.

I’m sure you’ve got the drift and warning.

When I reflected on these experiences, I’m reminded that the word “con” in “con men” probably stands for “confidence.”

Con men understand human psyche better than many of us do of ourselves.

They know how to invoke confidence in unwary consumers.

Go through the extraordinary extent to plan for the con job.

Make you like and trust them.

And do everything possible to fulfill their evil motives, including making us give them our hard-earned money.

Let me share some ways to strengthen your radar to detect a con job and ring-fence yourself against con men.

1. Know thyself.

Con men know how to exploit your weaknesses to their advantages.

For example, they know how to appeal to your desire for money, success, happiness, love, relationship, respect and recognition, doing good, socio-economic status, and other pursuits.

They capitalize on your flaws, including potentially your ignorance, apathy, greed, lust, vanity, ego, desperation, laziness, plain irresponsibility, and other weaknesses.

Therefore, free yourself of any negative desire.

Learn to watch over and protect yourself.

Seek help and support to ensure that you do not fall into any of the con men’s traps and bondages.

2. Source of contact.

Find out how did the other party knows you and who else have they contacted.

Check with credible customers about their experiences with these parties.

3. Credibility check.

Do a thorough check of every vendor’s integrity and credibility from independent and reliable sources of information.

Find out if there are any complaints about them on the Internet as well as other credible channels.

It includes checking on their backgrounds, track record, business dealings, customer services, and results.

4. Seek wise counsel.

Seek help and assistance from people who are in a good position to help you determine the facts and validity of the offer.

5. Put it in writing.

Ask the other parties to put their offer in writing and provide you with credible witnesses, customers, and other references.

Don’t just rely on written testimonials.

Make sure these references are trustworthy and then call them to verify and find out more information.

6. Ask lots of questions.

When you ask a lot of questions, including repeated questions, you will be in a better position to find out the truth.

7. Transact with the help of experts.

Retain the professional lawyer, accountant, banker, and financial advisor to help you conduct due diligence and guide you through any transaction.

Arrange for the professionals to meet the relevant parties.

8. Beware of pressures to take action immediately.

Con men use all kinds of tactics to persuade and pressure you to take quick action.

They include creating a sense of urgency, scarcity, special offer, limited time frame, risk-free opportunity, social encouragement, and even intimidation and harassment.

9. Look out for red flags.

Develop consciousness and caution for risk and dangers.

Con men like to operate in secrecy. They will tell you to keep the offer to yourself.

They prefer to deal with cash because there is no paper trail.

They will ask you to send cheques or transfer money to an unknown account or an account that is difficult to trace.

They may befriend you over a protracted period of time.

Meanwhile, they wait patiently for the right moment to con you.

The more crooked ones will even offer you their body, money, or other valuables to entice you and win your heart and trust.

10. Better to be safe than sorry.

Cultivate a mindset of skepticism and cautiousness.

If the offers are too good to be true, usually they are.

Therefore, spend time and effort to investigate the offer. Verify and test the truths.

Countercheck with professionals in the subject matter before you make any decision.

In closing, please remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you.”

If I may add, please don’t be a wolf and eat any sheep.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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Life is FUNtastic!


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