Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc. Founder and Chairman Manuel B. Villar, who is the only Filipino to make in to the latest Forbes global billionaires list, yesterday issued another warning to the public against the fraudulent use of his name and photos for a cryptocurrency scam.
“It has come to my attention that a social media post falsely claiming that I endorsed a cryptocurrency trading program is again making the rounds in various websites, specifically in yahoo.com,” said Villar in a public notice.
He added that, “I would like to reiterate that I have never made any such endorsement nor have I engaged in the said bitcoin trading program. This is a scam and I ask the public to protect themselves from such unscrupulous act by reporting them to the proper authorities.”
Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a warning to the public against Bitcoin Revolution, which presents itself as a cryptocurrency trading program purportedly endorsed by government officials, businessmen and celebrities.
In an advisory, the Commission urged the public to “avoid or stop investing in schemes offered by Bitcoin Revolution or any other entities engaged in digital asset trading and promising ridiculous rates of return with little or no risk.”
The SEC issued the warning after finding that Bitcoin Revolution continues to solicit investments from the public using the domain “the-bitcoinrevolution.com” without the necessary license.
An unregulated entity with unknown operators, Bitcoin Revolution is notorious for using fake endorsements from the likes of Senator Manny Pacquiao, former Senator and House Speaker Manny Villar, and television host Boy Abunda.
Recently, the Department of Finance (DOF) alerted the public about false and fraudulent information about the Secretary of Finance supposedly promoting Bitcoin Revolution.
Under the scheme, investors could supposedly earn as much as $1,000 from a minimum investment of $250 within a day, a 300 percent return on investment per day or a total of 9,000 percent per month.
Bitcoin Revolution also claims that some of its traders managed to become millionaires in less than two
months by simply investing in its scheme that purportedly offers a unique automated trading system or platform with a success rate of as high as 99 percent per transaction.
The scheme involves the offering and sale of securities, in the form of investment contracts, because investors need not exert any effort other than to invest or place money in Bitcoin Revolution in order to derive income, according to the SEC.
As such, the investment contracts must have been duly registered with the Commission while Bitcoin Revolution and its agents must have secured the corresponding license to offer securities for sale to the public, as required under Republic Act No. 8799, or The Securities Regulation Code.
Aside from the missing registration and licenses, the quick and unrealistically high return promised by Bitcoin Revolution presents a red flag for a Ponzi scheme, an investment scam where investors are paid using funds contributed by the succeeding investors, according to the SEC.
The SEC has flagged the unauthorized activities of Bitcoin Revolution before in an advisory dated March 30, 2020.
Bitcoin Revolution remains unregistered with and unauthorized to solicit and accept investments or placements from the public nor to issue investment contracts and other forms of securities, the Commission emphasized.
The group also continues to manage its digital exchange platform without the proper registration with the SEC, in violation of the prohibition on the use of unregistered exchange under The Securities Regulation Code. In addition, Bitcoin Revolution still does not appear in the list of entities registered with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in accordance with BSP Circular No. 944, Series of 2017, which provides for the Guidelines for Virtual Currency Exchanges.