Local residents say they lost their investment in a scheme involving an anti-aging serum
By Leslie Yeh
Northwest Asian Weekly
Who is the real Pei-ti Tung? That is the question Mike Sabo and Dean Leong have been asking themselves since 2006, when they first found out that the woman they had forged a business relationship with was actually a convicted felon with a criminal background. She had several aliases and her family history didn’t tie together.
In 2005, Sabo and Leong met Tung, an entrepreneur marketing an anti-aging serum under the company name Biozn. She boasted an impressive academic background and family lineage.
Sabo said that Tung claimed to have a degree from Stanford University. She claimed her father was C.Y. Tung, a legendary shipping magnate and founder of the Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) in China.
She said that her brother was Chee Hwa Tung, the first chief executive officer in Hong Kong, who would help them obtain distribution for Biozn in Asia.
Tung told Sabo and Leong that her anti-aging serum had a unique zinc compound which she had discovered in Egypt along with professors at the University of California, Davis. She said it was a natural healing topical skin care product with sun-block qualities.
Sabo and Leong agreed to invest $10,000 each in Biozn and help market the serum.
Other identities of Tung
“Anybody who met her would have been impressed. She was very knowledgeable, a bit aristocratic and snobby … but I had this feeling that something wasn’t right,” said Leong.
Sabo and Leong later discovered that Pei-ti was Marjorie Tung, a convicted felon who had served six months in federal prison in 1999 before changing her name to Pei-ti in 2002.
After investigating, Sabo found out that the Tung family knows of no blood relative in Seattle. Leong said that the family of Dr. Robert C.Y. Ting, an influential biochemist who Tung claims is the co-founder of Biozn, has never heard of the name Pei-ti Tung.
“After many months, consumers complained that the product turned black and smelled like vinegar. A few complained they got burned in the sun,” said Sabo.
Sabo and Leong investigated Tung’s background and found out that she had faked the death of her first husband — Michael Tseng — in 1994 in order to collect on a $500,000 life insurance policy. One year later, she was convicted of fraud when her husband was found in San Francisco. She was sentenced to six months in prison and four months of home confinement; she was fined $25,000.
In addition to not disclosing a criminal background, Sabo and Leong allege that Tung stole the formula for her serum from an identical product developed by Addison Biological Laboratories, where she previously worked as a representative.
According to court documents, Bruce Addison — the president of Addison Biological Laboratory — confirmed that clinical studies published on the Biozn website were undertaken at Addison Biological Laboratory.
Tung denies fault. “Did I steal the formula? No,” she said. “Do I know Addison’s exact formula? I don’t know. [It’s] their property; they wouldn’t tell me.”
Tung’s side of the story
Tung tells a different story. “I gave [the product] to [Leong], and she loved it, and she sold it,” Tung said.
“Every morning she would come to the store and sell it [for me]. … I said I didn’t want to, but they said we want to help me market. I was stupid enough to listen to them. I said I don’t have money. [Sabo] said they would lend the money, how much do you need? So we signed the contract. And then he changed his mind because he’s thinking he paid too much. … And then he filed suit against me.”
Tung also claims that she is the one being sabotaged. “When people find out [my criminal history] and try to further sabotage me, I just say ‘give me space to prove myself.’ … I learned my lessons, and I was deeply sorrowed, and [I] regret it. I ask people to forgive and give me a second chance.”
Sabo claims that Tung is currently using the home of a couple at her Burien church as Biozn headquarters and is still marketing her product to various spas and salons.
“People need to keep their guard up — she’s out there right now. She’s not the person she tells people she is,” warned Sabo.
Although her investment may be irrecoverable, Leong is hopeful that those who are still involved with Tung will be protected from her scams. “I think it’s really important to be able to stop her from swindling and hurting other people, especially older people. I did all the due diligence and didn’t see any red flags. I think she’s just really good at what she does. If it could happen to me, it could really happen to anybody.”
Sabo recently filed suit against Tung and won on charges of securities fraud.
Two women, Anne Fu Ip and Teresina Ling, also won a lawsuit against Tung and her ex-husband Michael G. Bell for $64,000 that the couple borrowed but never repaid. ♦
Leslie Yeh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.