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SEC says 14 scammers taking advantage COVID lockdowns to peddle get-rich-quick shemes

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned that more than a dozen scammers are going all out to push fraudulent online schemes during the coronavirus lockdowns.

In a statement , the SEC-Northern Mindanao regional office said: “These individuals and groups are taking advantage of the [Covid-19] pandemic to defraud investors and consumers,” the agency said.

SEC said it has flagged at least 14 groups engaged in “authorized investment-taking activities and other fraudulent activities since the declaration of national public health emergency following the confirmation of local transmission of [Covid-19] in early March.”

SEC urged the public to stop investing in Maginvestka.Online (Mik.O), “which purportedly trades Bitcoin against the US dollar,” and Azenzo-Online, “which supposedly operates as an independent crowdfunding platform”.

SEC said Mik.O is operated by a person or persons using the pseudonym “Mag Forex”.

The agency said the group “entices the public to invest with a guaranteed two percent return daily or 200 percent in total for a period of 100 days”.

Azenzo-Online, meanwhile, boasts about a “’deposit-donation, withdrawal-blessing’ scheme similar to that of Kapa-Community Ministry International. It promises a 30% return in as early as five, 10 or 15 days and a 100% ‘Donation Return’ after 20 days,” SEC said.

SEC said that based on its records, both entities are not registered in its office as a corporation or partnership.

“Furthermore, they did not secure prior registration or license to solicit investments from the public, as required under Sections 8 and 12 of Republic Act No. 8799, or the Securities Regulation Code,” it said.

The agency has also flagged the activities of individuals and groups using the names of certain foundations or representing themselves as such.

“The Commission particularly warned the public against a text scam using the name of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. Under the scheme, one would receive a text message stating that he or she won P750,000 from the President Rodrigo Duterte Charity Foundation through an electronic raffle,” SEC said.

The agency also cited Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which penalizes those participating in cyber-related incidents that make use or take advantage of the current crisis to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts with two-month imprisonment or a maximum fine of P1 million or both.

“We encourage the public to carefully study and examine offers and invitations to participate in schemes promising easy money especially in these difficult times,” Emilio Aquino, SEC chairperson, was quoted as saying. (PNA)

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