981 Singaporeans are believed to have been scammed by Australian businesswoman Victoria MacPherson, after buying into a suspected Ponzi scheme that collapsed last year.
Singapore police are now investigating the Singapore-based company, Macro Realty Pte Ltd, which is run by Macpherson.
Besides the 981 Singaporeans, other investors include 651 persons from Malaysia, 58 from the UK, 17 from continental Europe and 31 from Australia.
Altogether, investors lost S$110 million in the scheme.
Most of the investors were not highly educated and lost their life savings.
Investors were promised annual returns of up to 18 percent if they gave their money to Macro Realty to invest in Australia property developments in Pilbara.
The scheme was heavily promoted with a slick marketing campaign in Singapore and Malaysia from 2014 until its collapse in early 2016.
Some investors were swayed by a slick corporate video filmed in the Western Australia parliament, which featured senior politician Brendon Grylls, leading them to believe that the company had the support of the government.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission are also investigating MacPherson’s dealings.
They are looking into the alleged Ponzi scheme, as well as potential offences of stealing, fraud and forgery.
ASIC alleges that Macro Realty ran a Ponzi scheme, in which investors were encouraged to provide money to fund property developments that either never happened or were only partially developed.
ASIC also alleges that between July 2014 and March 2016 investors lent Macro Realty almost S$110 million and received interest payments of which almost all were made using the funds paid by new investors joining the scheme.
Court documents say the scheme collapsed when Macro did not have enough new business to meet its expenses, including crippling interest bills, so it stopped making payments to investors.