August 24, 2020
North York, Canada
Shuang (William) Wu - an MIT Graduate living in North York - claims he was bilked out of $136,500 in a complex scam involving a fake trading website. This scam cost this North York father almost everything, including his Condo.
Mr. Wu claims he was contacted by someone by the name of Zhang Yiling (Annie) on LinkedIn in early December. Over the next 6 months, this person brought Mr. Wu into a complex web of lies and deceit.
Yiling befriended Wu and eventually asked him to move the conversation to Whatsapp. He claims Yiling presented herself as a successful business person. She repeatedly boasted about her finances and showed him pictures. He believed her, albeit with a little suspicion.
It was January 2020 when Wu had his first doubts about Yiling. She mentioned trading to Wu, but suddenly stopped contact, stating she was busy with the Chinese New Year. This set off alarm bells for Wu. However, he decided to remain in contact with Yiling.
About a month later, she re-connected with Wu and asked him to use a trading simulation, one that didn’t require any real money. This was how Yiling lured Wu into the scam. Wu was impressed with the simulated returns, and Yiling soon pressured him into the making a “real” account. Considering the impressive returns he thought he would make, and the perceived success of the person he was talking to, Wu decided to invest some real money.
Wu made an account in early 2020, and for next six months made a series of payments into the program. The first investment was $3,000 USD. Wu was happy with the stated returns and invested $3,200 more. Wu decided to pull out $100, to see if the program worked. He was able to receive the money, and felt confident enough to invest considerably more.
Wu invested $26,000 USD, then $34,000. He noticed pleasant results, then decided to sell his Condo and invested $90,000 USD. A friend of Wu’s also contributed money to the “trading program”.
In July, 2020, Wu decided to pull out $20,000. He received the money, for which he feels grateful. Then the shock came.
Later in August, Yiling contacted Wu to inform him he had lost all of his money. At that point, it was a total of $136,500.
Wu, in disbelief, started to investigate the website. He then discovered, that the website he was using was a fraud. According to him, the website was manipulating the data in the trading program. The website also appeared to be using false credentials. He presents convincing evidence for this claim, which Toronto Today has reviewed.
What is KBI Global Investors?
KBI Global Investors is a registered investment firm based in Dublin, Ireland. According to its website, it provides “highly differentiated investment strategies delivering consistent patterns of performance and risk.” It has numerous employees listed on LinkedIn.
The FCA reference number listed for the site is 206768. And its web address is https://www.kbiglobalinvestors.com/.
However, this was not the company Mr. Wu was instruct to invest in and trade with.
Instead, Yiling had directed Mr. Wu to a site under the URL https://www.kbigll.com/. The name of the real company in Ireland is named KBI Global Investors Limited. Interestingly, the website Wu was using had 2 L’s instead of an I then an L. It is unlikely a legitimate investment firm would make a spelling mistake in its URL.
The website Wu was using does not list any contact names, or a business address. It only lists an e-mail for contact, [email protected] . The domain name was registered via GoDaddy in early 2020, and has been given a “very bad trust score” by Scamdoc.com . One of the reasons for this rating is,
“This domain name is linked to one or more countries known for being used by fraudulent websites.”Scamdoc, Website
It appears the website Wu was using stole the credentials of a legitimate company in Ireland, to trick Wu, and possibly others, into investing money into a phony trading program.
Zhang Yiling is very likely a fictitious identity created by the scammer(s). A reverse image search on Yandex.ru delivers 0 results for her profile image. Attempts were made to contact “Yiling” and arrange a Skype interview. An e-mail was sent to the listed address, but the email was not returned at the time of writing. The upper management of the real company in Ireland have been contacted for clarification, but have yet to respond.
Wu has reported this fraud to the Police in Toronto.
He has been investigating the source country of the website, and believes the fraudster could be in Hong Kong or China, based on WHOIS records. He plans on contacting the Police in China and Hong Kong, if he manages to trace down the scammer’s exact location. He believes he needs the co-operation of CloudFlare and GoDaddy to do this.
Wu contacted CloudFlare, as well as GoDaddy. He expressed frustration at both party’s lack of co-operation in helping him track the fraudster down. Wu went as far as contacting the CEO of CloudFlare on LinkedIn.
When asked what he expects to happen next, Wu says he feels it is unlikely he will get his money back, but he maintains some hope. He also hopes speaking to the media and getting public support will help him.
Victims of financial crimes in the Toronto Area can contact Police at 416-808-7300. The Toronto Police lists tips for protecting oneself from fraud, which can be seen here. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s lists tips on protecting oneself from “investment scams”.
Article by: Mark Slapinski