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Penny Auction Sites, Scams?

Salam everyone,

Today’s post is about penny auction sites that purports to sell various items at very cheap prices. I am sure you have seen ads where things like Iphones, laptops, digital cameras etc were sold at ridiculously cheap prices. To the unsuspecting buyer a deep discount of up to 99% is surely enticing. But are these sites scams?

Websites like sharkybids.com or pennyauctions.com.my offer a free membership and a few free bids. They operate by charging members for every single bid they make. For instance a digital camera that’s worth about RM800 is being auctioned starting with the price of a single penny or cent. Each bid a member makes will move up the price by a penny.  So members start bidding in the hope that they may get to buy a digital camera for a very low price. After a certain period of time the bidding ends and the auction price ends up at, say RM10 for instance. A digital camera worth about RM800 being sold at 10 dollars is indeed a bargain and these websites (the legit ones at least) do honor the auction. So how do these websites actually afford to sell a camera at only 10 dollars?

Remember that every bid moves up the price by a single cent so if the final price is 10 dollars that would mean there would have been 999 bids. Every single bid makes money for the website. Most websites charge an average of RM 2 for every bid so 999 bids equals RM1998. So this means that the website actually make RM1998 and the RM10 from auctioning the camera. In this instance the website even makes a profit of RM1208. Pretty clever eh?

This is certainly a good business model for the webmaster as he can reap pretty large profits. The auction winner also gets a deep discount. However for the others that failed, they would lose the money they spent on buying those bids. So the model is similar to that of a lottery – the organizer reaps a huge profit by selling tickets and pays out to a sole lucky winner while the others just effectively burn their money for nothing.
So is this a scam? Well some might say that it is. If you are not well informed you might feel cheated at the end of the day, but if you are aware of the risks involved and willing to take the gamble then it is on your own head. So for those who like taking risks and gambling penny auctions are just the thing for you. Of course for Muslims like me, participating in such penny auctions would be haram as it is a form of gambling and thus forbidden in our religion. So now you know, until next time, Salam everyone.

Co-op Societies @ Koperasi

Salam everyone,

As a follow up to the Postal2u Program post, I would like to talk about a good investment vehicle/business opportunity: the co-op society or koperasi in Malay. A co-op society is an incorporated body meaning it is similar to a private limited company. The purpose of a co-op society is, and I quote from the Co-operative Societies Act 1993, the promotion of the economic interest of its members in accordance with co-operative principles.

A co-op society is made up of at least 100 members but usually number in the thousands. A co-op society draws its funds from its members, either through membership fees and/or shares subscribed by its members. So a large co-op society can draw large amount of funds if it can attract a large number of members. For example if a proposed co-op society has about 20,000 members and each member is willing to pay between RM100-RM200 as registration and share subscription, the co-op society can raise around RM 2 to 4 million.

The co-op society can then invest these funds in carrying out a business for e.g. starting a retail store, a goat farm, a sugar cane plantation etc. It can also invest in properties as well as banking instruments. A co-op society can also offer loans to it members, and some co-op societies make money this way as well, charging interest or profit on the loans. The gains from its businesses and investments is then distributed as dividends to its members.

To start a co-op society, you have to apply to the Co-operative Societies Commission of Malaysia, where the application is sent to the Registrar-General for approval. You have to submit the following documents:
1. the application form signed by 10 members
2. the proposed by-laws of the society signed by the 10 members
3. minutes of the inaugural general meeting signed by at least 50 persons present.

This means that before submitting the application form, you have to hold your inaugural general meeting first. All interested members should attend and agree to the incorporation of the co-op society, its objectives, its primary business, the members of the Board, its by-laws etc. It should be noted that members must be a Malaysian citizen, 18 years of age, mentally sound, not a bankrupt, not convicted of any offences, and has not been expelled from a co-op society before.

After submitting the documents and paying the prescribed fee (RM45 I think) the Registrar then will approve the society and issue the relevant certificates. The co-op is then ready to start making money.

The co-op society is a good investment vehicle for groups of people who, individually do not have enough capital, but by pooling their money together, can make the difference. By far, this is better than wasting money with some get rich quick scheme.

My Wife’s Blog

Salam everyone,

Just to let you know, my wife finally started her own blog. It’s all about legal topics on property and estate planning and management. Its a good read for all of you who want to learn more about your rights in relation to your property and your estate. Just click here okay.

So go on right over there and leave some comments while you’re at it.

Cash 123 System Review

Salam everyone,

Today’s post is about this system that I saw on the internet: The Cash 123 System. It promises up to $4000 a week when you use this system and it boasts that you do not need to do any marketing, no MLMs, no advertising, no web building bla bla bla etc. Yeah right, sounds like a scam to me.

But I decided to check it out anyway, just to find out. For the pursuit of online riches, bravely go I… whatever. Well after paying the fee, I find that the system is not actually a system, the author just lists four steps that are “sure ways” to make money online.

I’m going to reveal them to you here for free;

Step 1: Make Money with Forex… The author wants you to invest some money in Forex because he is sure that you will make money this way. He assures you can make money by asking you to subscribe to a paid forex signal website called Forex AutoMoney that is currently offering a trial period of 3 days for 5 dollars. I don’t deny that people do make money from Forex, but you don’t need to pay the author to tell you that.

Step 2: Make money with Sports Arbitrage… Okay this is something which I just heard of, kudos to the author for teaching me something. Basically you learn to hedge your bets at the bookmakers and get a small but certain payout. Not half bad, but gambling is Haraam for Muslims like me so its a no go here. But if you are a Non Muslim and don’t mind making money from gambling go ahead…

Step 3: Make money with… HYIPs??? Yeah this is just way too ridiculous to comment.

Step 4: Make money with… autosurfs??? I don’t know about you guys but these two steps are iffy at most. Just forget about these two.

Okay so after reviewing the so called system, I have to say that there is no system at all, just tips/suggestions from the author on how to make money online, which I have just told you for free.

The Arrest of the LAC Lawyers & the Bar’s EGM

Salam everyone,

Some of you may have heard of the arrest of 5 lawyers from the Legal Aid Council in connection with the arrests of 20 or so other people holding a candelight vigil for the detained political activist, Wong Chin Huat. The lawyers were freed the next day but the fact they were arrested at all was astounding.

It is disturbing that these lawyers, were arrested when they were attempting to see those arrested to give legal advice. The police had acted over the top in this situation, I think. You can read the recounts of the events by these lawyers at the Malaysian Bar website.

The Bar yesterday held an Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss these issues and what steps its going to take. Over a thousand lawyers showed up and the decision was unanimous. They condemn the arrest totally and even demanded the resignation of the Minister of Home Affairs and the IGP amongst other things.  The resolution of the EGM can also be read on the website.

Personally,  I do not condone the act of the police in arresting those five lawyers. These lawyers are there to render legal assistance; a fundamental right of all Malaysians. The act came across as high handed and even abusive. They should have handled the situation with more finesse.

However there is something which I find strange and I feel that should be noted: the LAC lawyers had went to the police station right after those people were arrested. This was about 9pm at night. In my life, I never knew that LAC lawyers worked beyond normal working hours and acting with such alacrity. Furthermore Legal Aid is usually given if the person passes the means test. To hear that lawyers from Legal Aid showing up with such vigour and enthusiasm that seems to be above and beyond their scope of work puzzles me.

It is true that the legal profession should always stand up for civil rights and liberties but I am lead to think that the legal profession is being manipulated by unknown parties with a hidden agenda. Well, this is all speculation from me, and this conspiracy theory may well be just a theory, but I’m taking all that has happened with a pinch of salt. I just pray that our country stays peaceful and harmonious.

Coulomb World

Salam everyone,

I read about Coulomb World in a classifieds section of one of our newspapers. The company offers a job that allows you to work from home. This is something that a lot of job hunters look for. The flexibility of working at home plus a steady income at the end of the month is like the Holy Grail of jobs, so to speak.

Coulomb has its own website, and it claims that it is involved in BPO or Business Process Outsourcing. Basically they do outsourcing work like data entry etc. This seems harmful enough; however, after snooping around for more information, I learnt that you have to pay a deposit of RM1040! That is a lot of money just to get a data entry job. Furthermore they will pay a fixed amount of money i.e. RM600 every month regardless of the amount of jobs given. Needless to say alarm bells started ringing: Scam Alert!

This is obviously a Ponzi scheme. They are paying you money from other people’s deposits. Madoff ring a bell anyone? Asia Part Time has a post on scam data entry jobs, and some of its comments were about Coulomb. One of the commentators paid for “20 accounts” so that he could get a payment of RM12000 every month. I’m dumbfounded by this person’s gall. What kind of a job lets you have “20 accounts”? News my friends, that is not a job, it’s a Ponzi scheme, no doubt about it. I’m sure this person honestly believes in Coulomb, and that he can earn from it. I sure hope he gets back his money before it all turns turtle.

Coulomb looks pretty legit at first with ads in Jobstreet etc, but after hearing about the deposits and the fixed income, we all should know better. Like the old adage, if it sounds too good to be true, then most likely it is not true. Well, I do not want to be a bummer; I pray that all of you will find success in these hard times, and hopefully avoid any scams and frauds.

More on child conversions…

Salam everyone, I read this article in theSun newspaper this morning:

 Let’s say no to child conversion

THE AUTHORITIES must step up efforts to ensure that an anguished and grieving Hindu mother is reunited with her one-year-old daughter. What they do may most certainly help demonstrate the caring attitude of the new government of Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak while at the same time show that it is ready to face the consequences for doing the right and just thing. The woman’s Hindu husband had not only converted to Islam after leaving her but had taken away from her the baby which he subsequently “converted to Islam”, whatever that means. Some religious officials must have abetted him in “converting” the baby without the consent of the mother. What he did was deplored by members of the Hindu community and other Malaysians, including prominent Muslim scholars. The government, mindful that the non-resolution of numerous high profile problems related to “conversion to Islam” was one of the reasons the BN government became unpopular, decided to act quickly. It decided that it must come up with a definite policy on conversions of minors to avert future problems while at the same time demonstrating its commitment to its recently articulated 1Malaysia principle and objective. Last week’s cabinet meeting decided that civil courts are the right place to dissolve a marriage in the event of a spouse converting to Islam because conversion does not dissolve the marriage. But most importantly it decided that children should follow the faith that the parents had agreed on at the time of their marriage. Because the decisions may run counter to certain legal and constitutional provisions the cabinet also directed the attorney general to propose amendments to them so as to prevent future complications whenever a spouse converted to Islam. While opposition to the cabinet decision is building up from the expected quarters more and more learned Muslims are also coming out to speak against the conversion of children to Islam or to any religion for that matter. It is hoped that everybody will look at the effort to resolve the problem as objectively and as dispassionately as possible. But most importantly in these days when politics seem to be the preoccupation of many Malaysians, politicians too should view the government’s decision as objectively and as dispassionately as possible. Whatever we do we must ensure that we are moving forward in our journey towards a truly multiracial Malaysia. And by resolving this problem we are taking one huge step forward. Let us help the government not to flip-flop on this one.

I have to disagree with the author of this article. He is saying we must look at this issue objectively and dispassionately, but I don’t think the author is looking at objectively or dispassionately at all. I would like to write objectively and dispassionately about this article but I’m quite annoyed by it so please forgive me if I sound emotional.

First of all, the author writes, “The  authorities must step up efforts to ensure that an anguished and grieving Hindu mother is reunited with her one-year-old daughter…”. Okay now why must the authorities i.e. the courts and the government give special attention to this person? Not only that, the author urges the authorities to step up efforts to help this person. I don’t know her, but I’m sure she is a nice person and all, and no ones wants to see her in anguish and grief, however the authorities must treat this case as equally as any other custody battle. We do not live in an ideal world, where families stay together forever. The reality is that families sometimes break apart, and this happens to all families regardless of race or religion. There are many more anguished and grieving parents who are struggling to gain custody of their beloved children. If the government wants to step up efforts for that particular person, then it should step up its efforts for everyone who is in a custody battle.

Secondly, the author writes, “What they do may most certainly help demonstrate the caring attitude of the new government of Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak while at the same time show that it is ready to face the consequences for doing the right and just thing…”.

How does the author concludes that it is the right and just thing? The court case is not concluded yet, there has been no final decision by the court on the matter. Is he merely going on the basis of humanity? That a young child is best raised with the mother? What about the rights of the father? Is the author taking this stance because the mother is a Hindu and the father is Muslim? What if it was the other way around? What if the mother was the one who converted and the father wanted to take away the children from her? Will the author be singing a different tune then? I think the author is not objective at all here. Personally, my view is that if the child is still breastfeeding then the child should rightly be with his or her mother. However if the child is already old enough then the court should decide based on the facts and circumstances of each case, and the decision must be in the best interest of the child, not the parents.

Thirdly, the issue of child conversion is a thorny one. The author mentioned that the government’s policy on the matter had caused it to be unpopular and the latest decision by the cabinet showed its commitment to the 1Malaysia concept. I reserve my comments on this particular issue. I just would like to say that if a person who wishes to convert to Islam, must be aware of what he is doing, and that he consciously choose to do so of his own free will, because in Islam there is no coercion. He must also be able to utter the two syahadah, i.e. the basic requirements of a Muslim. So if the child fully understands and he really wants to convert to Islam and he can utter the two syahadah, who are we to deny him his right to religion?

Finally, the author also wrote that the decision of the cabinet may run counter to certain laws and constitutional provisions hence its proposal to the Attorney General to amend the laws. However, as I have mentioned in my previous post, altering the constitution requires a two third majority in Parliament, and that still remains to be seen.

These recent developments certainly has given me food for thought, and I shall adjourn my post at this point. I welcome any comments that you may have. Thank you.