Two women who claimed to be presidents of one of the world’s biggest nutrition and weight loss companies took more than HK$50 million in product orders before disappearing, the alleged scam victims said today.
Some 60 people said they had been duped by two women, surnamed Choi and Ng, who claimed to be presidents in the Hong Kong office of multilevel marketing company Herbalife.
Choi and Ng allegedly told the victims they could buy Herbalife products at a cheaper price from them directly on which they could make a resale profit of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent.
The victims said that initially they received the goods and made a profit, so they started to invest more money in the scheme. However, they said the two so-called presidents disappeared at the end of last month and they had been unable to find them.
One of the victims, who gave her surname as Tsang, said she had lost HK$2.6 million in the scheme. She said she had known one of the women for years and that she had approached her around two years ago to invest in the products.
“I believed she was a president of the company. Herbalife’s office had her photo,” Tsang said.
The victims said Herbalife had claimed the two women were only ordinary members of the organisation and were not on its staff.
Herbalife said it was “shocked” and appalled” to hear about the case. A spokesman said the memberships of the two women had been terminated, though it did not specify when.
“Herbalife takes any case of violation of the company’s rules of conduct by our independent members very seriously. Herbalife has a very strict ethics policy and code of conduct, which all our independent members are contractually bound to comply with,” the spokesman said, adding that he could not comment further due to an ongoing police investigation.
Civic Party legislator Claudia Mo Man-ching, who is assisting the victims, said Herbalife should shoulder some of the liability for the victims’ losses.
“Herbalife as a multinational company should take some responsibility. We are talking about business ethics … You can’t just say some members had inappropriate practices and you have nothing to do with it,” she said.
Mo said the victims had reported the case to police and the commercial crime bureau is investigating.
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