Get-rich-quick cryptocurrency scams have proliferated online, shamefully seeking to take advantage of netizens who are merely trying to augment their incomes during these difficult times.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigated more than 30 of these online scams as of April 2020, all of which were deceiving victims into investing money into illegal investment operations with the promise of large and quick returns.
Fraudulent cryptocurrency platforms use Ponzi or pyramiding schemes, which generate returns for earlier investors by taking later investors’ money. Others advertised their get-rich-quick-schemes on social media platforms and messaging applications, such as Telegram and Facebook Messenger, nefariously attempting to victimize everyday investors about actual cryptocurrency. Some of these scammers even resorted to using the names of known government officials, claiming that these officials endorsed the use of their platforms.
Some of these ads used the name of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to promote “Bitcoin Revolution,” a fake cryptocurrency trading platform. The ads claim that Secretary Dominguez supports their business model. The scheme promises investors that they will earn as much as $1,000 from a minimum investment of $250 within a day. The SEC advised the public that the company is not licensed with the Commission and flagged its ridiculous rates of return.
A similar platform was discovered under the name “Bitcoin Lifestyle,” which adopted a similar method. This time, however, it claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte himself “is urging all citizens of the Philippines to learn about Bitcoin Lifestyle quickly to get involved.” The DOF denies all these claims.
In addition to these schemes, the SEC has released advisories on investment scams and entities that are not registered and/or licensed to solicit investments from the public. You may evaluate investment offers by checking out the advisories through the official SEC advisories page.
Reporting investment scams
With the economic challenges brought about by the pandemic, the DOF reminds the public to be cautious with their finances, refrain from investing with questionable entities, and report suspicious individuals or companies immediately to government authorities.
Under the Securities Regulation Code, those who act as salesmen, brokers, dealers, or agents of fraudulent investment schemes may be held criminally liable and penalized with a maximum fine of P5 million or imprisonment of 21 years, or both.
For suspicious investment schemes, you may contact the Enforcement and Investor Protection Department of the SEC through e-mail at [email protected] or through landline at (02) 8818-6337.
For malicious messages, lodge reports to the NBI Anti-Fraud Division at (02) 8525-4093 or e-mail at [email protected]. You may also send a message through the NBI’s website at www.nbi.gov.ph or their official Facebook account.
You may also report these incidents to the PNP Anti-Crime Group (PNP-ACG)
through www.pnpacg.ph or hotline number at (02) 8723-0401 local 5313.
While scams abound both online and offline, there are safe and legitimate investment options available in the market. The SEC provides a list of firms and individuals permitted to sell investment products to the public. You may check out (insert link: SEC-registered firms and individuals https://www.sec.gov.ph/registered-firms-individuals-and-statistics/registered-firms-and-individuals/).
One option for cautious investors is to explore government-issued securities, such as Retail Treasury Bonds and Premyo Bonds offered by the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr). Bonds are among the safest investments because they are guaranteed by the government and offer fixed interest earnings that are paid out quarterly. What’s more is that bonds aid in financing projects and programs that benefit the country. Learn more about BTr-issued bonds by visiting (insert link: the official BTr website: www.treasury.gov.ph).
The government is also pursuing reforms to make investing in legitimate opportunities easier and simpler. The proposed Passive Income and Financial Intermediaries Taxation Act (PIFITA) will simplify the tax regime for bonds and stocks by reducing the number of tax rates on financial transactions from 80 to 36. PIFITA will make it easier for everyday Filipino investors to put their money in safe and secure investment opportunities.
To learn more about safe and legitimate investments, you may check out the investor’s education and information website of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (: https://www.sec.gov.ph/investors-education-and-information/)