Teng: Better Living Global Marketing has “cash flow problems”
Like all Ponzi schemes, the going is good until the money runs out.
Better Living Global Marketing launched in the shadow of the $850M Ponzi scheme, Zeek Rewards.
From his hidey-hole in Hong Kong, Luke Teng headed up the company. Teng oversaw investors pump $1175 sums into the scheme on the promise recruitment commissions and 99 day ROIs.
Whereas Zeek Rewards was shut down by US regulators, the belief among Better Living investors was that the company being based out Hong Kong meant there was no chance of regulatory action before new investor funds were exhausted.
As with every other MLM penny auction, retail was non-existent and eventually Better Living ran out of affiliate funds to pay commissions and returns with. The lack of funds appears to have critical mass sometime late last year, with affiliate withdrawals grinding to a halt shortly thereafter.
Since late 2013, the scheme has mostly been in limbo.
Hong Kong police were reported to have begun an investigation into Better Living back in May, but as of yet nothing has come of it.
In desperate need to inject new affiliate funds into the scheme to keep it going, Luke Teng has been holding meetings within which he lays out his plans for the company going forward.
Despite being uploaded last month, the video analyzed below only recently surfaced. Going off Teng’s remarks in the video pertaining to company revenue, it appears to have been recorded around September of 2014.
Addressing an assembly of what are presumably some of his top investors, Luke Teng delivers his speech from behind a counter in what appears to be an office.
Teng opens up by asking the group whether they are aware that Better Living “is having cash flow problems”.
One of the affiliates responds “yes”, which seems to surprise Teng. After asking who the affiliate’s upline is, he then dismisses his initial concern stating that “it doesn’t matter”.
Teng then reassures the assembly that Better Living’s cash flow problems are “temporary”.
[1:40] We don’t hide anything. We hare having financial problems now, cash flow problems… but this is temporary, I promise you, because… do you know what we are doing?
Now this is very important, does everybody know what we are doing?
This is not a network company. This is not just another Amway… Herbalife, we are not just that one.
How are we different?
In network marketing marketing companies, like for instance Herbalife, want to lose weight? Ask me, right?
You tell people how to lose weight in Herbalife, you don’t make money… until you sell something. That is network marketing.
[3:08] Most people would like to recommend good things to your friends and relatives but they cannot sell.
That is the big difference, ok?
But if you don’t sell, how can you make money? You get me first? Get me?
This is network marketing. Better Living is not pure network marketing.
In Better Living, we don’t necessarily sell to make money. Is that right?
Because profit sharing. We call it “passive income”. You don’t have to sell and you still enjoy the profit.
Though you cannot withdraw it now, someday you will eventually you will get it. Okay? This is my promise, don’t worry, okay?
After all but confirming Better Living Global Marketing is a Ponzi scheme that doesn’t require anything to be sold to retail customers, Teng goes on to claim he the scheme has taken in a “world record” $3.3 billion USD.
Teng goes on to explain the “cash flow problem”, blaming it on a lack of promotion by Better Living’s “passive earners”.
[4:52] These core people, they are networkers… they work very hard. But this is a limited number of people, so they cannot make such a big sale.
But these outside people, the passive income earning people. They made 183.3 million in sales during this time.
Okay? So this is why we have been so successful, but this is also why we are having this financial problem.
Why? Because only these core members are doing network marketing, telling people and working hard (Ozedit: bringing in new investors).
The majority of the people just sit there and wait for the daily money to come. Get me?
Better Living Global Marketing was always marketed as a passive Ponzi investment scheme, so why Teng is feigning his being upset at his passive affiliate-base is unclear.
Well, new investment funds have dried up and he can’t pay everybody out – there is that, but what did he think was going to happen?
Again, if Better Living Global Marketing took in anywhere near the $3.3 billion USD Teng claims it has, the ROIs and recruiting commissions owed to affiliates must be astronomical.
For comparison, TelexFree took in about a billion dollars and paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in returns. When it was shut down, the combined returns promised to investors was in the vicinity of five billion dollars.
In answer to Better Living’s cash flow problems, Teng then reveals his “latest development”.
[5:40] (Having no money) is why we jumped to the latest development of the company.
We are doing okay. On regular days like this, we are still making like $8 to $9 million USD a day.
Teng then brings up what appears to be a spreadsheet on a nearby television screen and proceeds to rattle off random numbers to his audience.
Teng claims the highest amount of investor funds brought in on a single day was $33.5 million USD on May 17th.
[7:47] The problem is, “eyyy so you make so much money, how come you’re not paying us”, right? That’s everyone’s concern.
The problem is (Teng points to the television screen), this is not real money – this is “ecash”.
People are using this ecash to open new accounts, to generate more ecash… but the money never comes into the company.
To anyone even remotely familiar with the Ponzi industry, Teng’s description of ecash should immediately make it identifiable as what is otherwise referred to as “monopoly money”.
When a Ponzi scheme pays out using a virtual currency system (ecash) such as Better Living does, it is able to generate monopoly money which is used to track its theoretical liabilities.
This works in the initial stages when almost everyone is re-invested these monopoly funds. But over time those at the top drain the reserves and ultimately real cash can no longer keep up with the monopoly money ROI liabilities.
When happens it’s common for top investors to start offloading the virtual currency. They do this by selling investment units (or the virtual currency that can be used to purchase such units), to unsuspecting recruits.
These recruits hand over real money to their uplines in exchange for investment positions, often not realizing they’ve been conned until they try to withdraw actual money from the scheme.
This is usually when uplines stop answering their phones and email (they’re either too busy ripping off countless more or have cut their losses and moved onto another scam).
[8:13] Some leaders are still making good money. Because the leaders are taking cash from the new members and they use it to give them ecash.
So, that’s still a way for you to make money.
That Luke Teng openly suggests his top affiliates engage in this behaviour is outrageous. These “off the books” Ponzi investments are hard to trace and often bar an affiliate from recourse should the scheme collapse and/or regulators step in and shut it all down.
At this point Teng switches gears and launches into tirade against MLM, before revealing his plans for the company.
[8:40] I am not doing MLM. I don’t like it. I have been in the MLM business for almost thirty years. I don’t like it.
Why? Because it’s not real. It’s misleading.
It tells you how easy it is to become rich. It tells you “hey just refer two who refer two” and if each of them refers two then you become a millionaire, which is not true.
[9:12] Only some people make money.
Teng seems to miss the irony of a small group of top Better Living investors selling ecash to unsuspecting recruits being the only ones making actual money in his own scheme.
[9:38] MLM is not the solution. But why am I doing this?
Because I want to borrow the multiplying power of MLM to build up a customer-base.
[10:12] What my original plan was, I start with MLM (and) after I build up enough members, I will stop taking new members.
How can I stop taking new members, where’s the money come from?
Money comes from phase 2 and phase 3.
The dreaded “Ponzi phases”? Here we go…
[10:27] Phase 2 is mainly retailing of bid points to ordinary members. No MLM, no network marketing. You just come to the website and buy your bid points, no bonuses no nothing.
What Teng is referring to are retail customers, something which no MLM penny auction has thus far produced in any significant number.
Bringing in a purported $3.5 billion USD and having no retail customers to show for it, Better Living Global Marketing is no exception.
[10:48] More importantly phase 2.3 is “super products”.
What are super products? I’ll show you, if you’re interested, several of our super products and you will be amazed.
Teng goes on to describe an oil additive that he claims will help a car to start “even if it’s minus 50”.
Teng claims he is in the process of establishing a sales network for this product in China, which means he won’t require his Better Living affiliate investors to sell the product.
[13:40] Tell me, twenty super-agents. Each of them refers to me twenty district-agents and we’ll have four hundred right?
And if each district-agent finds twenty retailers, how many retailers are there?
Eight thousand, just like that.
Each retailer sells one bottle, we sell eight thousand bottles a day.
Left unsaid is why Teng needed to create the Better Living Ponzi scheme to realize this dream. If he was able to put this retail chain place all along, why start Better Living Global Marketing in the first place?
[14:05] And we do that in the China market, which has 1.3 billion people. Understand me?
This is how we do it. And we need super products. Why super products?
Because if it’s a gimmick, nobody will buy it and the program will fail.
This is super, everybody will come in and fight for it, right?
Teng seems to be under the impression that there are enough people in China unable to start their cars in winter, to the extent that they are willing to fight over his product.
Another “super product” Teng reveals to his affiliates, via the somewhat awkward looking up of information on the television screen, “is the equivalent of making a 75 to 80 year old person act middle age”.
Teng explains the product is already readily available online for $40 USD a month. He states that if he puts the product “into my system, I will sell 8000 bottles a day”.
[18:44] And then ultimately we go to phase 3.
Phase 3 is what? Commercials, advertising right?
Everybody is talking about income from advertising is that right?
I tell you, this is the joke. Nobody watches commercials.
[19:40] We are different. If the website people watch commercials (they do so) attentively.
Why? Because they need to understand the content and after the commercial has played they need to answer the questions to earn bid points.
The bid points themselves are of high value. 19 US cents per point, but not just like that. You may use the bid point to win a Rolex watch.
The idea here seems to be to use advertising to entice new members to ultimately spend money on won Bidders Paradise auctions, and to potentially collect advertising fees on the side.
Satisfied he has adequately explained where Better Living is going to source the likely billions it has promised its affiliates in returns, Teng concludes
[22:20] So our financial problem is temporary. We will overcome this and there’s no room for us to fail.
After a lengthy explanation about how Better Living cannot fail, mostly revolving around their ability to operate in both China and abroad (because y’know, nobody else has that capability), Teng then suggests he’s “seriously considering” taking Better Living public at some point in the future.
A story about venture capitalists is trotted out, with Teng claiming said investors told him they thought Better Living “could beat Google”.
Teng also claims that a US fund “wants” to give Teng a loan of 50 million dollars.
[30:51] There is a US fund called (indecipherable). They want to give us a loan of 50 million dollars USD.
But it’s been half a year already. People are saying “hey are you not in good terms with them, has things turned sour?”
I tell you what, no. We are still negotiating.
It’s not that simple. They are asking for this and that and lots of uh, internal struggles and uh, I don’t want to say anything (Teng points to the camera recording him)… it’s ok.
In light of Teng running a $3.5 billion dollar Ponzi scheme, one could readily understand Teng’s trouble in producing “this and that” in order to secure a loan.
In any event,
[31:56] 50 million dollars is not enough now. It was good enough half a year ago but now, after six months, it will not be enough to pay everybody.
Despite nobody in the room voicing concern, Teng then spends the next few minutes convincing them that he’s “not going to run”.
[33:38] One thing for sure, for all members, for sure: you don’t have to worry.
I will not run. What other worries do we have that I would run?
If I don’t run, you don’t have to worry.
But why would I not run? Why wouldn’t I run?
Because the future is so good. How can I run?
There’s no room for failure, why would I run? I don’t need to. Get me?
So this is something for sure, you can tell your people that.
You can go online and say “don’t worry, we have the best bank in Hong Kong, on the planet”. Right?
The last thing I would do is to run. I would be crazy, I would be out of my mind to do that? Alright? Okay?
So that is it.
And after all of that, we start to get into your typical HYIP Ponzi scheme shenanigans to trap affiliate money in the system.
[35:59] The VIP program is, this time I’m guaranteeing income and withdrawal. But in a special way because the withdrawal plan is different.
Before you can withdraw anytime you like, right?
Now the VIP program is:
-30% must come in as cash, no exceptions. It cannot be cancelled withdrawals turned into ecash wallet.
-First month, no withdrawals
-Second, third and fourth month, fifteen percent of the money you put in (can be withdrawn)
-The last month, the remainder.
So you can withdraw only four times, throughout your membership.
What does it mean?
If you buy ten units, you can get seventy percent back from the company.
Under this new VIP plan, if the affiliate wishes to collect the remainder of their ROI, they need to recruit new investors. This, Teng believes, will solve the problem of passive investors “just sitting there and waiting for the money”.
He goes on to explain that, ultimately Better Living Global Marketing cannot currently pay out investors because the company is operating with a “deficit” of around 8%.
At nearly 50 minutes into the video, considerably time could have been saved had Teng just said they didn’t have enough new money coming in to pay people and left it at that.
[50:17] Now this is the whole situation, all the story, the whole thing, what happened and what is going to happen.
So don’t worry at all. Nothing to worry, we will be there. There’s no way that we can lose.
Finally, one last tidbit related to banking is revealed in the last few minutes of the video:
[58:38] Two banks has closed four of our accounts.
Two banks, the (indecipherable) and the Hong Kong bank, HSBC, has closed our corporate accounts and they closed my personal accounts there.
So, two banks has closed four of our accounts.
Why? Because we have too many transactions. Too much money coming in and going out every day. And they don’t like it.
The first thing is the money don’t stay, they don’t make any money. The second is that they think we are money laundering. We are illegal.
They think that we are illegal. But they did not ask.
If they come ask me and I explain, “this is blahblahblah, these… penny auction and…”, they will say “oh you are not money laundering”, but they did not ask.
I called them “why did you close our accounts?” They said “for administrative reasons”.
What can I do? Okay, right?
And by that time, how can I pay you so much money?
We will have our own bank. With that much money, with that much sales, of course we can have our own bank right.
Okay? So that will be the outcome.
So hang on and make use of this last opportunity to get more and more people in before we close and go to phase 2.
And there you have it. Whether or not funds were frozen as a result of Better Living and Teng’s accounts being closed is not disclosed. But it would explain the ongoing cash flow problems (in addition to there being a lack of new investors).
The lack of being able to secure new bank accounts would similarly explain the delays, and reason Teng feels he needs to create his own bank in order to continue running Better Living.
Despite the “guaranteed, we cannot fail” rosy picture Teng portrays, all I still see is a Ponzi scheme that has run its course.
The additional phases he talks about make no sense, as they offer a total disconnect from the raising of millions, if not billions from investors.
If you want to sell super products and you have the means to establish retail channels in China, then do it. What do you need thousands of Ponzi investors for?
Similarly the advertising is a lame duck, as no legitimate advertisers are going to get in bed with a Ponzi scheme. In addition to that, incentivized ads are typically regarded as low-quality and worthless.
People aren’t watching the ads because they’re a targeted audience interested in the content, they’re there on the promise of Ponzi dreams.
Thus the phases Teng talks about are smoke and mirrors. All you have is a Ponzi scheme with shutdown bank accounts, promises of an IPO, affiliates with billions of Ponzi points and no money to pay anybody out with.
I have no idea what is taking the Hong Kong authorities so long to sort this mess out. As far as I can see Better Living is ripe for a regulatory shutdown.