GEORGE TOWN: A shockwave rippled through a “virtual money” shopping mall here when a task force raided it – but it only lasted for about five hours.
M Mall, a shopping complex run by MBI International was raided, probably for the first time in seven years but the company officials and the raiding party were tight-lipped.
“The company has been quite untouchable all these years. No action was taken against MBI before but it’s different now. We have to be prepared for the worst,” said one MBI member who was at the mall.
The five-hour raid at M Mall involved about 30 uniformed enforcers of the Companies Commission of Malaysia, the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry, police and several other plainclothes officials believed to be from Bank Negara Malaysia.
They seized four sealed suitcases, two large cardboard boxes, three reams of paper and two plastic bags filled with sheets of more paper.
An attempt to get details from Penang police only yielded the reply: “Sorry. Bukit Aman case.”
The raiding team arrived at noon and was initially only on the mall’s fifth floor management office.
At around 4pm, however, a team marched to the mall’s ground floor and raided one of the outlets, Mcalls.
This is believed to be MBI’s telecommunications services outlet and the service centre for MMspot, MBI’s “shopping and barter system management platform”.
Customers at the Mcalls outlet were stunned by the raid.
However, almost immediately after the raiding party left M Mall, shoppers with their virtual money went back to their buying.
“This is not like (failed money game) JJPTR. MBI fulfilled its promises. What wrong has M Mall done?” Jeffrey, a long-time MBI member, said.
He said he enjoyed spending his virtual money in M Mall, especially on dinners with his wife and children at the mall’s restaurants.
“We can buy everything from household appliances to handphones with our points. We can even partially pay for cars and properties with our points,” he said.
Jeffrey maintained that despite the raid, his virtual money was still intact when he checked online.
“I know that many cannot accept this form of investment, but many others can. It is a new thing but it works,” he added.
MBI International which was recently red-flagged by Bank Negara for having a questionable financial scheme.
Members put money into the scheme and get a sum of virtual coins in return. After an incubation period of over a year, they can then convert these coins into points to spend in several services and retail establishments under the MBI umbrella such as M Mall.
The scheme gives substantial returns a year and this is believed to be the longest running financial scheme founded in Penang.
M Mall’s international customer base also caused a stir in Penang earlier this month when MBI organised a shopping carnival for 24,000 of its members from China.
Most of the hotels on the island were fully booked and the group caused a major traffic jam as they were taken to M Mall in several hundred buses.