Protecting Your Wealth

by Patrick Liew on August 27, 2018

Protecting Your Wealth

I once met a con man who pulled off an almost perfect con job. He is still scot-free.

In year 2006, a friend introduced me to an impressive young man. He was well educated, articulate and talented in many ways.

Mike (not his real name) has a special gift – an outstanding memory.

He also has a talent for teaching different techniques to help others improve their memory skills.

I was asked to take in the young man as a student and to coach him to be an entrepreneur. Truth be told, I did everything for him on a pro bono basis.

Out of the goodness of my heart, I did not only train him, I allow him to operate his “business” from my office.

Little did I know I was opening my office door for a time bomb to be installed in it.

I even helped him to generate his initial revenue by organizing memory-improvement courses in my training room.

I did not ask for a share of the profit and neither did he offer to share the profit with me.

I was happy with the arrangement because I wanted so much to help him achieve success.

To be fair to him, he did a good job with the training. I had positive feedback from the participants.

On the flip side, every sign showed that Mike was a young man in a hurry.

All he wanted to do was to make a fast buck.

I should have seen through his intention or should I say, evil motive.

However, I was blinded by my desire to groom a young man. And he had every potential to be a great entrepreneurial leader.

I could not imagine even in my wildest imagination that he would cross over to the dark side. The wakeup call came one day from a distant friend.

“Patrick, do you know Mike?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Are you aware of his con job? I’m calling because I know you’ll never support such a wrongdoing.”

My heart started to beat faster. A sense of fear and anxiety started to run through my being.

My friend explained Mike’s con job to me.

Apparently, Mike had placed a series of advertisements in the local newspaper.

They were placed to look for candidates to fill up senior executive positions for a company.

These candidates would be employed as expatriates and they would be based in major cities around the world.

They would be paid a high salary plus a share of the profit.

After a series of job interviews, every person who applied for the job was given an employment contract.

They were promised that they would be trained to become a senior executive and given a fast-track career.

Mike was smart enough not to offer the job on the first interview.

Everything he did was designed to look professional and to give an impression of a stringent selection process.

Truth be told, most of these candidates did not have the qualification, experience and competence to do the job.

They were therefore overjoyed to be given an employment contract and such a lucrative offer.

As part of the contract, candidates had to put up a “refundable deposit.”

The rationale for the requirement was made to sound logical and acceptable to candidates.

Mike told them that he had to invest time, money and effort to apply for a work permit for them.

Whether it is successful or not, the deposit will be refunded to the candidate.

However, if the application was not successful because the candidate had falsified information or had held back material information that could affect success of the application, the deposit would be forfeited.

Mike told them that it would take some time as he had to set up the overseas offices. Meanwhile, he would submit the application.

Subsequently, he had to come out with many “justifiable” excuses for the long process in getting the work permit and why the candidate had to be patient.

Eventually, the candidates realised they had been conned. However, none of them was willing to go to the police.

Most of them told me to the effect that they treated it as “another lesson in life, after all the loss was only a few thousand dollars.”

The fact was that none of them would like to appear in court and look like a fool for being conned.

What’s more, they fear they would be ridiculed by their relatives and friends for applying for such a senior position and believing they could do the job.

I tried to report to the police but because I was not a victim, the police was not willing to take my complaint.

They told me to encourage the victims to come forward to lodge a report.

I tried to talk to some of the victims into doing it but failed. They just wanted to move on in their life.

All I could do was to connect to Mike’s parents and told them about the incident.

I also threatened to go to the ends of the world to put Mike behind prison bars.

To the best of my knowledge, Mike never pulled another con job in Singapore again.

As there was nothing more that I could do, I eventually moved on with my life.

What stayed on in my heart and mind until today are many powerful lessons from the unfortunate episode.

While sharing with one of my mentees about this incident, I’m reminded that a key reason for the downfall of many people is greed.

Greed is also closely related to cupidity, avarice, and covetousness.

It’s a belief that “I don’t have enough. I will work harder and harder because I want to have more and more stuffs.”

Many people are caught up with such an unregulated pursuit of what I call the 6Ps.

They have an inordinate drive for more and more profit, possession, power, position, prestige and pleasure.

This excessive or rapacious craving can also be a craving for just about anything.

This obsession goes beyond fulfilling basic needs.

It has nothing to do with basic survival and comfort or whatever is needed to live a healthy life.

Greed has been known to drive even the smartest of men to indulge in all kinds of desires to satisfy their base instincts, vanity, or even malice to others.

They satisfy their self-interest and oftentimes, at the expense of others even though the craving offers only temporary pleasures.

Material things are valued more than people, relationships and the environment.

These obsessive desires are like a bottomless pit. They cannot be satisfied and be fulfilled.

They can lead to all or part of the following damaging destructive activities:

* Scavenging and scraping to satisfy desire,
* Compulsive and obsessive pursuit to acquiring and owning stuffs,
* Hoarding of both essentials and non-essentials,
* Selfishness, stinginess and unwillingness to help others,
* Preventing others from getting what they want,
* Criticizing others and blaming them for not fulfilling their craving and hoping to always get something better,
* Substituting obsession for other meaningless pursuit, and
* Committing corruption, scam, or abuses.

Unfortunately, greed blinds people from having a heart for people or concern for any of these negative outcomes.

Very often, it did not start as greed. It begins as a minor craving and grows a little at a time until it becomes an inner drive that is beyond their control.

Greed can be influential and infectious. It can draw people collectively to pursue a craving or an obsession.

It can also alienate them from our Creator, family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

In an increasingly materialistic and affluent society, you should guard yourself against the risks and dangers of greed.

Greed can strike any one of us and especially people with an unhealthy sense of lack, insecurity or deprivation.

It can drive you to make foolish decisions in pursuing relationship, multilevel marketing, business and investment.

The risks and dangers of greed are compounded by the fact that marketers have studied consumer behavior vigorously.

They have fine-tuned the art and science of creating unnecessary wants and desires, and persuading you to satisfy them indiscriminately and excessively.

Be careful how you can be lured into these materialistic traps.

Remember, what you seek to control can control you.

Whatever you desire to own can take ownership of your heart and mind.

It is important that you do not fall in love with unhealthy desires of your heart, eyes and ego.

Do not be obsessed with money. However, be passionate about the good that money can do for the people around you.

Focus on values that can offer meaningful, beneficial and sustainable benefits to people and the environment.

By doing that, you will become a more contented, happier, and more fulfilled person.

Let me share some ways to enhance your radar in detecting a con job and ring-fencing yourself against con men.

1. Be aware and beware of the wolves in sheep skin

We live in a strange world.

There are crafty people out there who will do anything for selfish gains and they will do it to the detriment of others.

That’s why we need to be aware and beware of how greed can take control of people, including even some of the smartest in our midst.

Never underestimate what they will do to satisfy their self-serving desires. Therefore, be vigilant.

Don’t fall into any trap laid out by evil men, especially in the guise of material benefits.

2. Know thyself

Conmen know how to exploit your weaknesses to their advantage.

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

They capitalise on your flaws, including potentially your ignorance, apathy, greed, lust, vanity, ego, desperation, laziness, or plain irresponsibility.

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 conmen’s traps and bondages.

3. Exercise control over your fleshly desires

Conmen exploit weakness of the human psyche, including greed, vanity, lust, ignorance, apathy, desperation, irresponsibility and laziness.

They appeal to typical pursuits such as the pursuit of wealth, success, happiness, respect, popularity, opportunity and love.

Therefore, at all times, do not let the things of the world take you into their bondage.

Free yourself from unhealthy desires and you will realise the joy of true freedom.

4. Differentiate needs from wants

Learn to differentiate needs from wants. Needs are requirements that help us survive and do well in life.

However, wants are desires that may enhance our emotions temporarily but they are not sustainable.

Make it a goal to fulfill your needs in the most effective and efficient way.

The best way to do it is to live simply. It’s one of the keys to improving your happiness level.

Live within your means and as cost-effectively as possible. The resulting savings can be used for investment purposes and to support a good cause.

Conmen will find it hard to cheat a person who endeavours to live a simple and honest life.

5. Source of contact

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

Check with credible customers about their experience with these parties.

6. Credibility check

Do a thorough check on the other party’s integrity and credibility from independent and reliable sources of information.

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

It includes checking on their background, track record, business dealing, customer service, and results.

7. Seek wise counsel

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

8. Put agreement in writing

Ask the other party to put his offer in writing and provide you with credible witnesses, customers, and other references. Do not rely on unwritten testimonials.

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

9. Ask many questions as possible

When you ask adequate number of questions, including repeated questions, you will be in a better position to find out more information, facts and truths.

10. Transact with expert help

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

Arrange for these professionals to meet the other party.

11. Beware of pressures to take action immediately

Conmen 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.

12. Look out for red flags

Develop consciousness and caution for risks and dangers.

Conmen 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 may also 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.

13. Better to be safe than sorry

Cultivate a mindset of skepticism and cautiousness. Learn to research, analyse and think deeply and critically.

Never take information as face value. If the offers are too good to be true, they usually are.

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

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

14. Cultivate a discipline of delayed gratification

Delay satisfying your wants. Determine why you want to do it and the outcomes you are trying to achieve.

Look for better and more sustainable ways to enjoy a similar purpose and outcome.

For example, if you are looking at acquiring something so as to be happy, you can always look for a cheaper way to achieve the same emotional satisfaction.

Delayed gratification can help us develop self-control, discipline and perseverance.

These are also traits that are common in many successful people. It will also ring-fence you against the wily ways of con men.

15. Focus on positive values

Commit yourself to serve a higher calling and for a worthwhile cause. Pursue values that will help you live at a higher plane in life.

When you do that, you will have a lesser tendency to fall into the traps of evil men. You will also learn to live a meaningful, exciting and fulfilling life.

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 “eat” others too.


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

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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