Clemen Chiang Freely: Sued & Refund

Clemen Chiang, the founder of Freely Pte Ltd was sued by 48 people in the Small Claims Tribunal & ordered to refund close to 80 per cent of their fees for the seminar and a full refund for the cost of the software and 'webinars'.

The latest news today has Clemen Chiang's appeal was dismissed by the High Court.

Thanks to a Straits Times expose on degree mills last August in which the report named ('Dr', yeah right) Clemen Chiang as having a PhD from an unaccredited university, these 48 people realized that they had made a wrong decision. One was quoted to comment: "I signed up because of his PhD. Option trading is a complicated thing. I thought this guy should know what he is talking about since he had a PhD in it".

Well, you know what they say about this: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach". And to make it more relevant in this shameful case of Clemen Chiang's Freely refund, "Those who can't teach yet want to teach, sue them!".

My sincere hope that Clemen Chiang--irregardless of his questionable PhD degree--may indeed a sort of 'expert' in options trading. His option is running low & he has now close to $180K to pay back to the 48 people he almost conned.

Then again if he's really such an expert, he won't have wasted his time trying to educate people in options trading, would he? The logical thing is that Clemen Chiang would just continue enriching himself with his 'expertise' in options trading.

The conclusion is left without saying. People who read his ad, should have felt alarmed. Oh well, maybe his 'PhD' degree indeed was quite convincing.

A company belonging to a self-styled expert on option trading lost an appeal yesterday against claims awarded by the Small Claims Tribunal to 48 people amounting to $176,583.

They had filed the claims after The Straits Times reported that Freely Pte Ltd's founder, Mr Clemen Chiang, allegedly obtained his doctorate in option trading from an unaccredited university.

The 48 people claimed they would not have attended Mr Chiang's three-day course on option trading or bought a $960 computer program if he was not the holder of a PhD from an accredited university.

In yesterday's appeal in the High Court, Freely alleged that the company was not given a fair hearing by the Tribunal hearing in March.

The Tribunal is part of the Subordinate Courts and a Referee - who can be a Magistrate, a District Judge or a Senior Officer - can hear claims involving the sale of goods or services not exceeding $10,000.

"The Referee appeared to have made up his mind even before the hearing was concluded, as his immediate oral decision, which he read from a prepared text, took about two hours to be read out, with translation into Mandarin," said Freely's lawyer, Senior Counsel Giam Chin Toon.

But Justice Woo Bih Li, who heard yesterday's appeal, countered that it was common for judges to write their judgments and make the necessary changes, even as the hearing is ongoing.

After a day's hearing, the High Court judge dismissed Freely's appeal without citing his grounds of decision. The Tribunal has more than 400 claims against Freely still to be heard.

From Today, "Freely loses appeal against claims payout".

And from earlier news on 13 March 2009 (somehow I missed it. Heh.):
A GROUP of 49 people scored a legal victory over a self-styled expert on option trading who turned out to have a dodgy doctorate from an unaccredited American university.

A dozen of the course participants said they had paid Mr Clemen Chiang between $3,600 and $4,000 last year for a three-day course on option trading - a complex and risky investing technique which often amounts to betting on share-price trends.

Several had also forked out another $960 for training software and a handful paid $1,600 to $12,000 more for online tutorials referred to as 'webinars'.

Mr Chiang, a 34-year-old Nanyang Technological University engineering graduate, has been running these seminars for a few years at his Freely Business School in North Bridge Road.

He would tell students his own success story of how he made millions, and he drew hundreds of participants.

He claimed to have a PhD in option trading, a rarity in the finance industry here.

But when it came to light last year that his doctorate was from the unaccredited Preston University in Alabama, the group of 49 wanted their money back.

Yesterday, the Small Claims Tribunal found that Mr Chiang had misrepresented his qualifications. It awarded all participants a refund of close to 80 per cent of their fees for the seminar and a full refund for the cost of the software and 'webinars'.

Mr Chiang, who still calls himself 'Dr', attended the hearing but did not speak to The Straits Times.

The Small Claims Tribunal is part of the Subordinate Courts and can hear claims involving the sale of goods or services not exceeding $10,000.

Outside the tribunal, several participants said they felt cheated when they read a Straits Times expose on degree mills last August. The report named Mr Chiang as having a PhD from an unaccredited university.

Sales representative Terence Tan, 41, said: 'I signed up because of his PhD. Option trading is a complicated thing. I thought this guy should know what he is talking about since he had a PhD in it.

'So imagine my shock when I found out that his degree was not from a recognised university.'

Like some others, he felt the course fell short of providing a good understanding of option trading.

Engineer William Hui, who paid $8,000 for himself and his wife to attend Mr Chiang's course, said: 'He should have called it 'Millionaire mindset', because for a whole day, it was just about how much money he made, his Sentosa Cove bungalow and his wife's Hermes Birkin handbag costing over $10,000.

'When he finally went into his so-called method of trading in options, I found it lacking. And then he tried to sell his software for another $960.'

Mr Chiang still claims to have a PhD on several of his websites, but makes no mention of Preston University, which American education authorities have called a 'degree supplier' offering 'fraudulent or substandard degrees'.

Last August, he told The Straits Times that he was also pursuing another PhD at the University of South Australia.

When asked then why he had opted for a degree from an unaccredited institution, he said he wanted to complete a PhD in double-quick time.

Because Preston University was listed as a partner of a private school registered with the Education Ministry here, he said he thought it was an accredited institution.

It was only later that he realised that Preston was not accredited in the United States, he said.

Like other business people who had bought fake degrees, Mr Chiang said then that it helped to pave the way in business.

Checks last year found more than 200 people - including prominent businessmen and financial consultants - flaunting degrees, MBAs and doctorates from degree mills and unaccredited, substandard institutions.

From Straits Times, "Trading 'expert' ordered to refund fees".


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