Singapore — Online cryptocurrency trading platform Torque now faces up to 115 police reports, with investors worried they were defrauded.
There were some Torque users, including Singaporeans, who were involved in promoting the platform, which led investors to believe that Torque was actually a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme.
A multi-level marketing or pyramid selling scheme will typically require participants to pay an upfront charge. In return, the participants are promised financial rewards for each additional participant recruited – hence the pyramid-like structure. As more salespersons are recruited, participants hope to recover their upfront charges and earn sizeable profits. However, such pyramid schemes will eventually collapse when they run out of new recruits, resulting in those salespersons at the bottom of the pyramid losing all their upfront charges.
According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, MLM activities in Singapore are governed by the Multi-level Marketing and Pyramid Selling(Prohibition) Act. Businesses that were multi-level in nature were deemed undesirable. However, some legitimate business such as insurance companies, direct selling, and master franchises would be allowed to operate under certain criteria.
One of the men involved is David Soh, who is allegedly the upline to dozens of people and who co-ran a Telegram channel for American investors he brought into Torque. An upline is someone who recruits new investors into the MLM.
Davis Soh was trusted by many when he said Torque was legitimate. He was part of a group that visited Torque’s office in Vietnam.
Since Torque’s collapse, he has been silent. Users suspect he was acting as the mouthpiece for Bernard Ong and other Torque Governors and actively promoting Torque, helping new investors get started and even talking to Americans about how to avoid getting in trouble with the US Securities Exchange Commission (one of the bodies that regulate cryptocurrency in the US).
Mr Soh has denied accusations from Torque users, claiming that he also lost money. “I am just another investor,” he said in a Telegram group chat.
Some Torque users are unhappy with the situation, especially older ones. A trader wanted to know how 90% of every coin in Torque could have been drained just by one trader. Some have put nearly their entire savings into Torque. One elderly investor said, “Torque was our last hope for the few years we have left.”
Some users were unhappy with the executive management committee.
Investigations into Torque are still ongoing. The company has said that the former employee who made the transactions that led to losses was the chief technology officer, Mr Wu Zongyi (alias Zee), who has remained uncontactable since his last communication with the team on February 8.
Denise Teh is an intern at The Independent SG. /TISGFollow us on Social Media
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