Alleged Malaysian Scammer Had Operations in Cambodia

4 min read
Teddy Teow Wooi Huat arrives for a signing event between his company MFace and low-case air carrier AirAsia, in a photo posted to MFace’s Facebook page on June 11, 2013.
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A Malaysian businessman facing extradition from Thailand to China over money laundering and online gambling tried to recruit investors in Cambodia.

Earlier this month, Phuket-based news outlet The Thaiger reported that Teddy Teow Wooi Huat, a Malaysian national who founded the company Mobility Beyond Imagination, or MBI Group, would be extradited to China by a Thai court decision.

Teow’s MBI Group was a conglomerate whose businesses included property as well as an online marketing-based investment scheme based on a Facebook-like social media platform targeting China and Southeast Asia. His ostensible empire included a resort in Thailand’s Danok town on the border with Malaysia, as well as registered companies in Cambodia.

According to the Commerce Ministry website, Teow had registered one business in Cambodia, MBI Ventures, in 2018 with another Malaysian director, Fong Kwok Choong.

Fong told VOD over WhatsApp on Tuesday that he had left the company several years ago, though his name was still listed online by the Commerce Ministry. He said he met Teow through another overseas entrepreneur and they wanted to invest in Cambodia together, but Teow never came through with the unspecified funding he promised.

“I can’t even collect back the company [incorporation] fee that we have put in,” he said in a message.

Fong said Teow “refused” to pay his business back for setting up a company in Cambodia, but he lost interest in following up with the entrepreneur and hasn’t spoken to him for “many years.” He said he had forgotten when the interaction took place.

“At that time, according to him, he wants to come to Cambodia to invest, so we are thinking to bring in some projects for him, but he didn’t give any clear direction [on] what to invest,” he said. “So it just wasted our time. After that we didn’t follow up with him anymore.”

Fong said he had not heard of the charges against Teow. But he added that Teow made himself sound like he was wealthy and could invest a lot of money, speculating that the entrepreneur was “just a con.”

Years before MBI Ventures was registered as a company, a user published a slide deck online in 2015 advertising MBI Group and MFC Cambodia in Khmer and English. The latter is a related company registered in Cambodia to Teow’s son Teow Chee Chow, who is also wanted in connection to a Macau-based scam syndicate.

The slide presentation advertises the company’s social media website, MFace, promising an opportunity to earn money by investing in the social media platform’s advertising and online gaming via an internal online currency dubbed “goods redemption coins,” or GRC.

The Khmer presentation said that potential investors had to buy advertising packages starting at $600, which would translate into a number of GRC that investors could spend on online advertising on MFace.

Another MBI slide presentation in English told potential recruits that they needed to bring more members into the company to move up to a higher level in the corporation and earn more money — a hallmark of pyramid schemes, in which entrepreneurs advertise a fraudulent business opportunity and then earn money off recruiting new people to buy into the scheme.

Teow was arrested in Thailand last July, with both Chinese and Malaysian authorities seeking extradition of the entrepreneur. According to Malaysian news outlet The Star, Malaysian authorities first took action against Teow in 2017, raiding the group’s headquarters, M Mall in Penang, and freezing 91 bank accounts linked to the company.

Two years later, 100 Chinese nationals staged a protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to complain about losing money to MBI. Chinese authorities also sought Teow for questioning after more than 400 Chinese citizens filed a suit against the entrepreneur in 2021 to recoup RM100 million ($23.4 million) in lost funds.

Cambodian investors also lost money to MBI.

Rithy Pim, a Phnom Penh resident who works in real estate, told VOD that he invested in MFace “many years ago,” but he gave up after two months, realizing the social media platform would not catch on with international users like Facebook would.

Pim, 36, said he first learned about the platform after his friend brought him to a training about the platform, and he lost $100 in total by investing in the platform. He did not remember when he was recruited, but he posted in a public Facebook group about MFace in 2013.

He said he was told to recruit others to the platform, but he never had any luck. The platform is now offline.

“I just joined to learn about that kind of business, [but] I thought that it took high risk [so] I cannot recruit others to take risks [like] me,” he said.

Thai media reports seen by VOD as of publication have not made clear when Teow would be extradited, or what he faces upon his return to China.

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