Not one. Not two. Not three. Not even ten OFW’s have become victims of a “promising” managed forex trading opportunity offered by the culprit American Michael Atkins and some Filipino friends based in Singapore to mostly OFW’s around the world. About a hundred or even more people have fed a monster with their hard-earned cash.
In the past several months, our team has been warning OFW’s about the potential trouble that managed forex trading companies may bring them. But still a lot of them didn’t listen and fell prey to one of the predators.
The name of the scamming forex trading monster in Singapore was Aureus Capital. Notoriously known as well as Amasis Capital back in Indonesia.
The next series of letters that you are going to read were forwarded to us by a couple of victims of this forex trading scam.
And then one fine day……
Date: 27 June, 2014 10:31:46 am GMT+8
Subject: To Our Family and Friends
Dear friends and family of Aureus Capital,
We would like to take this opportunity to announce that we are in the final stages of the migration to our new company platform. As part of this migration effort, we will be rebranding ourselves as Asia Pacific Financial Limited, headquartered in Wellington, New Zealand with an administrative and HR services office in Singapore.
We believe the rebranding of our company to be an essential part of our long term strategy and presence in Asia and our desire to provide a wider array of financial and banking services.
Additionally, we are pleased to announce that we will resume trading this Monday, June 30. By Friday of next week, you will be able to access a web-based login feature to view your account online.
In order to be able to continue to trade on your behalf, everyone will be required to fill out and submit a new application form. We will be sending out the new forms to you via email over the weekend. We kindly ask everyone to please get the forms back to us as soon as possible. Our new contact information for submitting the application forms will be made available directly on the form itself. There will be no need for you to resubmit your identification or other verification documents, as we already have those on file. However, everyone must fill out and sign the new forms in order for us to be able to continue trading on your behalf.
We thank you for your understanding and patience during this process and look forward to serving you again next week!
And then something really disappointing happened.
And then this:
From: “support” <email@example.com>
Date: 25 July, 2014 3:01:30 am GMT+8
To: “support” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: To All Our Members
Dear Aureus Members,
This is a notice to inform everybody that the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of Singapore is conducting an investigation on Aureus Capital.
As part of the investigative process CAD has frozen the Aureus bank account pending the conclusion of their investigation.
During this process, we are not allowed to conduct any business activities/trading, process withdrawals and/or receive funds from our clients via our company accounts.
We have no information at this time as to what will happen next or how long the investigation process will take.
We will return back client funds as soon as we are able to do so.
Our apologies for the inconvenience.
-Aureus Capital Pte. Ltd.
Amidst the barrage of complaints, cries, and demands from clients to withdraw their funds from Aureus and after several attempts of trying to reach Michael Atkins, one of its directors responded.
On Sun, Jul 27, 2014 at 11:34 PM, april samson <email@example.com> wrote:
I am writing to you to clarify some issues about your investment in Aureus Capital.
The information I am sharing with you are all based on my personal knowledge and experience at Aureus Capital and with Mr. Michael Atkins, whose ownership is 70% of the shares of the company.
I came to know Mr. Atkins when he hired me as a freelance developer in Indonesia for only 3 months. I did not encounter any problems with him back then.
When I worked in Singapore as an IT Consultant, I was searching for ways to have some passive income. I have tried many businesses such as stocks, networking and even tried selling branded bags. I maintained a clean record and no history of fooling or cheating people. I have worked for more than 4 years in Singapore and my friends and other colleagues in the Philippines and Singapore can prove that I am a person of good moral character and a law-abiding citizen.
As I am also a business-minded person, I equipped myself with a handful of knowledge about stocks and foreign exchange (FOREX) trading. I was reminded of Mr. Atkins as a trader, so I reconnected with him. I asked him to trade for me on his personal account. I trusted him enough to handle my funds. I was aware of the high risk involved in FOREX that is why I have only invested the money that I can afford to lose.
He was sending me weekly reports for me to be able to track the profits and losses of my investment. Few weeks later, I introduced FOREX to my family, relatives and close friends. I made it clear that it is a high risk investment and there is a possibility of losing their money anytime. The profits have been continuously promising as they have shared it with their friends.
After months of trading, Mr. Atkins decided to start a new company in Singapore. Since I knew some friends with permanent residence status, I asked Mr. Raymond Sumbeling who’s currently residing at 2** Yishun Street 2* #03-** Yishun Gardens Singapore(760225) to become the local director of the company, and he agreed on it. With the increasing number of members, I was offered to join Aureus as a full time Director. My main function was on the settling of utility bills and other administrative matters. I was only given access on the bank account of Aureus and I could see that the funds are being distributed properly to all members.
Unfortunately, Mr. Sumbeling and I had no access on the trading account. We were only receiving OANDA monthly statements from Mr. Atkins. These are the same statements I show to the members whenever they need proof of Aureus Account in OANDA. There was no fraud reported and I was happy to see that Aureus was able to help members increase their financial income.
Just like any member, I was also an investor. I invested my hard earned salary and profits to Aureus, hoping to gain more profit. Same thing with Mr. Raymond, he earned from his director’s fee, capital, plus profits.
We were in the midst of applying for Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) License until Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) went to our office to conduct an investigation about the license to operate the business. I immediately told Mr. Atkins to return all the funds to investors and stop trading operation until the company has complied with the required license. He agreed on but he was finding ways on how to continue trading for his own clients.
We had arguments since June 2014 because he was not able to return the funds to members. I was about to file a police report but he told me he will settle it on or before July 28. But the situation got worse. I was receiving death threats from different sources. I panicked and went out of Singapore without clearing my name. My act of leaving Singapore was my way of resigning from the company to avoid any complication on the obligation of Mr. Atkins to the members.
Mr. Atkins told me that he promised some people that he will settle the accounts by July 18, but the situation became worst because someone reported to CAD between July 16-18.
As far as I know, Mr. Atkins is under investigation and CAD worked to freeze the bank account of Aureus. The last information I gathered is that he will settle all accounts in August, but no official date given yet.
Please take note that I have already forwarded the documents such as: OANDA monthly statements, bank statements to CAD for investigation. I have proof to show that only Mr. Atkins has full access on the trading account. Further, the last OANDA report that was shown to me by Mr. Atkins contains a considerable amount of funds in the trading account. OANDA agent also told me that it is impossible to transfer the funds from a corporate to an individual account.
I fully understand that the present situation creates a lot of suspicion, anxiety and panic to all members. But, I am telling you that the only person who can comply with the obligation to return the funds is Mr. Atkins because he is the only one who has direct access to the trading account. He is the only authorized person to release the funds to Aureus bank account.
For now, I am hoping that Mr. Atkins will be able to settle all of financial obligation by August so it can end all of our nightmares. If he fails to do so, we can all take the necessary legal action to make him comply with his obligation.
If I may say it clearly, I have no intentions of hurting anyone of you. My family and relatives have also invested their lifetime savings with Aureus. I am also deeply affected with the situation. I am doing my best to get update from Mr. Atkins for the official date.
I will send a notice through email once I get an update from Mr. Atkins.
I hope this clarifies all your queries.
Thank you for your understanding and consideration.
Of course, the other director will not just let April do her thing. Here is his response.
On Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 3:02 PM, Raymond Sumbeling <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Now the clients are getting back to me after you sent that e-mail. A guy named E*** ******e called me up telling me that he got my number from you and he told me that he knows many investors who are angry and needed to see me to explain my side and have me a chance not to implicate me on this matter.
Why are you doing this to me just to cover yourself? Are you getting back at me after I provided your Philippine Address to CAD officer after I was asked to (I had to state the facts)? No one was asking who I am/was and a vast majority of clients do not know me at all. They do not have an idea who I am lest had my name removed from Aureus’ ACRA Biz Profile last February (not March, as you told on your conversation with him) and I was a just Nominee Director of Aureus back then for the purpose of ACRA incorporation that the company needs a PR/Citizen to which I did not know what you and Michael were planning for the company, nor did I have any decision making role and not even know what you were doing back then (I even suddenly knew that you had developers developing the website or there were sudden change on the application form). If you remember, we even had a heated argument last year on WhatsApp and you suddenly told me that I was just a Nominee Director and you and Michael were the decision makers then I expressed my desire to be replaced but you just pacified me only that I was too kind and gullible that I shut up then. I was only insisting to Michael that we need a license and comply with Singapore’s regulation. FYI, I have provided these e-mails to the CAD two weeks ago: of insisting to Michael that we need a MAS license dated August, 2013, the first time you sent me the application form of Aureus dated April 2013 and my notice to my Michael that I wanted to remove my name from ACRA, OANDA, DBS and Singtel early February 2014 (I did not mention in the e-mail back then that I was resigning, but wanting to remove my name as I was not really working for Aureus) stating my reason for wanting to do so. I have given your e-mail to CAD yesterday.
If you believe that you are innocent, why don’t you come here and accuse Michael of wrong doings? Instead of hiding and dragging someone else to this case?
You, being the Managing Director, 30% share holder (you never mentioned it in your e-mail) and proud approver of the bank account of the company should come forward and take your responsilibily and have your chance to clear your name.
I hope there is still a little conscience and compassion left in your heart for Christ’s sake.
I would like to take this opportunity if you can provide me all e-mail address that you sent your e-mail so that I can reply and clarify what you stated. That is if you still have Christianity left in your heart.
PS: When you stated that you were in the midst of applying for licence in your e-mail, someone posted a screenshot in our full-packed WhatsApp chatroom of a reply from MAS telling that they did not even receive an application for Aureus’ licence.
Guys on CC: Please forward to other investors who are not on this e-mail. Thank you
On Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 9:24 AM, Raymond Sumbeling <email@example.com> wrote:
I honestly do not know why you need to drag my name and my address on this. It seems to me that you’re trying to divert people’s anger at me, when I had my name removed from ACRA on February 2014 and I was just a nominee director as required for ACRA incorporation without any decision making nor not knowing your plans with the company. All I wanted was compliance to Singapore’s regulations.
The only reason I agreed to be a local director in ACRA was because I wanted to help the trader that time move his business here in Singapore so that our investments are all safe and I gave all my trust to him and you, which could be my fatal mistake.
“Same thing with Mr. Raymond, he earned from his director’s fee, capital, plus profits.” – This statement is misleading. The only thing I earned from was my Director’s fee was S$10K per year. I never even had commissions or other fees as I was purely relying on my regular investment just like any other Aureus client.
There were only five occasions that my I received money from Aureus bank account and I believe that the CAD will check each of those transaction:
1. S1.4K director’s fee during incorporation (Withdrawal aureus acct)
2. S3.6k director’s fee (from your acct, which was sent from Aur account)
3. Regular client withdrawal of 2.3K USD (from Aureus acct)
4. Director’s fee of 5K SGD, which I received when I was no longer in ACRA (from Aureus acct)
5. Regular withdrawal of 10K USD after I left Aureus by ACRA listing (from Aureus acct).
* * *
Please, have pity and mercy on my kids and their future who are just starting their lives. My only fault was my stupidity and my gullibility to agree that my name was to be used for ACRA requirement believing that this business was serious.
Since I’m also being investigated by CAD, I had to update them with this e-mail as soon as possible and I have to tell the truth.
The scam has become a free-for-all party.
And that was the day when Aureus died.
(More about Aureus and the people involved behind this “scam” in the next part of this article.)