By Hans Ebert


To those who know him casually, he’s a pleasant enough Indian businessman who’s lived in Hong Kong for around two decades. He’s low key, says the right things, smiles, and has never inherited an English Premier League football ball club, doesn’t travel with movers and shakers and has never paid big bucks for the company of Eastern European escorts in this city’s well-known private gentlemen’s clubs.


No, this Indian businessman flies under the radar. He has his meetings in the lobby of five-star hotels where he sips a cuppa tea and makes nice to his guests. He has also fine-tuned a modest business model. It’s one based on a combination of taking advantage of his roller deck of contacts- also usually Indians- who, at one time or another, might have thought they were floating like butterflies by opening restaurants and clubs like they were going outta style when the economy was on the positive side of ledger, but who have now seen their investments crash and burn and are looking for something/anything to bail them out. It’s like Cosmo realising his Coffee Table Book About Coffee has no legs.


When this happens and they’re on Desolation Row, in walks in the benevolent Indian businessman. Mr Nice Guy. He’s heard of their misfortune, and is more than willing to offer some help- nothing too ambitious, but, for starters, let’s say, a small HK $200,000 investment for a share in, maybe, an Internet startup with an education focus. After all, education in any industry will never go out of style plus he’ll mention how Mark Zuckerberg started and the success today of Facebook. And everybody wants to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. If for some weird reason this holds no interest, he has a number of other businesses in his portfolio looking for investors and shareholders for a small HK$20,000 investment. And there’s proof in the raisin pudding. Like what? He has a LinkedIn profile- and much more on being wary of strangers bearing LinkedIn profiles and wanting to be part of your network at another time- and websites that are all works-in-progress with information about every company he owns or could own along with their supposed success in Montreal. It’s always Montreal, and where he, apparently, has property, and other businesses.


What exactly does this businessman actually do? After seeing how he recently played out a number of individuals in Hong Kong, who have fallen on hard times, and who have never learned to read the fine print, this man lives on his wits, and preys on the desperation- and naïveté- of those clutching at straws for survival.


To these people- and everyone is different- HK$200,000 for a 20 percent share in a business with offices in Montreal is something which has some bragging rights. And gawd knows, Hong Kong is the Bragging Rights epicentre of the world that attracts so many with something to peddle, but needing many million dollars worth of funding- a television series, a movie idea, a film starring Nic Cage and Lisa-Marie Presley, the new improved and hugely more potent Cialis and Viagra for the Mainland China market, fitness centres that combine some new form of yoga started by Gurus Bob and Barbie along with an organic kebab restaurant etc etc. These are creative ideas in big bollocks, but there are those who believe in them.


We’ve heard them all, and what’s mind boggling are the number of fairly intelligent human beings who fall for what can be described as “the presentation”- the name card with a mini Wikipedia printed on it that so many accept at face value, a laundry list of titles including diplomatic credentials, plus a ticker tape parade of all the countries where the overseas companies are located- like Montreal- and, of course, a wallet with hundreds of photographs of these Shylocks with famous people. Photoshopping has never been so popular. Neither has been photoshopped with President Obama. Every shyster MUST have a photograph with Obama, especially on a golf course. Obama plays golf? At Mission Hills?


As for this Indian charlatan in Hong Kong, he works with a small law firm run by an equally small-time British lawyer, who also has a profile on LinkedIn. Together, they work on The Shakedown. It’s The Sting- but it’s a nasty one. It’s not Paul Newman and Robert Redford stealing from other crooks who deserve being stung and taken to the cleaners.


Meanwhile, the victim mentioned earlier has seen his initial HK$200,000 been invested in a dummy company. Some might say, it’s a company for dummies. Try and beg to have this initial investment returned, and the noose tightens. Suddenly, the victim learns that he owes his Good Samaritan friend an extra HK$600,000 for shares in some other dummy corporations. This type of nastiness is unforgivable- but it’s legal. Being hoodwinked is not a crime. It’s cause for concern and some form of government intervention as this is currently a pandemic in Hong Kong.


Why the extra HK$600,000? Somewhere in all the haste to be part of and have a share in something, papers had been signed, where, somehow, the stooge in this scam suddenly owned shares in four other companies he never knew he had. Plead ignorance, or, worst of all, hire lawyers to reply to childlike legal threats that their Client signed these papers “under duress”, and this tag team of the once benevolent Indian businessman and his British lawyer play a hardball game of GOTCHA. That defensive reply gives them the signal to come in for that knockout punch. The scam is complete.


The gloves are off, and it can, and has recently turned nasty for some in Hong Kong who should have known better to trust this pariah. What’s the way out? If lucky, there’s an out of court settlement plus paying the legal fees for both parties. From asking a favour to owing HK$200,000 for some non-existent company, Team Dumb and Dumber are now staring down the barrel of debt close to a million bucks for nothing. Can they fight this? With what? There’s no money for nothing. The chicks aren’t even free.


Ever get the feeling that these small-time lawyers with their pop-up Business Centre offices in Wanchai are working in cahoots? Shouldn’t they be exposed and publicly shamed? Sadly, when people down on their luck think they’re caught by their short and curlies even by obvious shysters, they suffer from shrinkage and will pay and pay and pay to make the big bad bogey man go away. This is not the way to get rid of a problem and leeches. And the big bad bogey man will only live to make the lives of others miserable. Grow some balls, you dimwits! Fight assholes like these!!! And every hater on social media. Laws MUST change and screw freedom of speech! Defamation of character on places like Facebook and Twitter can result in multi million dollar lawsuits. Just ask our friend- Barrister Kevin Egan.


Follow Hans Ebert on Twitter at @HansEbertHK