Monday, December 06, 2021

SEC tags Cebu-based beauty and cosmetic firm a Ponzi scheme

Photos courtesy of Securities and Exchange Commission

A CEBU City-based firm offering beauty, cosmetic, home and personal care has been flagged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an investment scam after it was found to be soliciting investments from the public even without the necessary license and permit.

SCET Colleens Corporation with office address at Unit 2004 Grand Residences, Apitong Street, Cebu City has claimed to have a secondary license, but upon investigation by the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department (EIPD), the document they were using was fake, SEC Cebu extension office officer-in-charge lawyer Alma Marie Estrada-Dalena said quoting the EIPD report.

SCET Colleens offers a number of investment packages and promos ranging from P3,800 to P1.08 million, promising lucrative passive returns of five to eight percent return of investment per month and other bonuses with little or no risk.

“The public is reminded that any offer or promise of ridiculous rates of return will little or no risk is an indication of a possible Ponzi scheme,” the SEC official added.

A Ponzi scheme is when early investors are paid of their investments from the investments of new investors and not out of the companies’ profits similar to the ill-fated Kapa.

Dalena said these entities are likely to close or shut down once they cannot gather enough investments to fund their schemes due to lack of new investors.

The SEC conducted the investigation following reports and inquiries of the public on the legal operations of the company, which also claims to be a multi-level marketing firm.

The SEC further identifies the following personalities as incorporators, namely, Shara Jane Casao Chavez, Kay Anne Cuizon Leyson, Edith Francisse Villegas Tablante, Earn Sta. Rita Saguindel and Artemio Tarona Ponce Jr.

In their website, Edith Francisse Villegas Tablante, who claims to be its chief finance officer, takes responsibility “upon the issue facing the company.”

In an advisory issued on September 2, the SEC said the names of those involved will also be reported to the Bureau of Internal Revenue so that the appropriate taxes or penalties will be assessed correspondingly.

“May this serve as a fair warning to the public to always exercise extreme caution before making or placing their monies on entities that offer “too good to be true” investment packages similar to SCET Colleens Corporation especially during this pandemic,” the SEC-EIPD said.

Dalena urged the public to always check with SEC.

“You can always visit our website to check if the company that you wish to invest your money with has a license,” she said, adding “people who engage in investment taking also need to have a secondary license; the Certificate of Incorporation issued by SEC is not enough as it does not authorize investment solicitation and investment-taking without a secondary license from the Commission.“

Moreover, those who act as salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents or convincing people to invest in their scheme including solicitation and recruitment through the internet may likewise face criminal prosecution and face a penalty of a maximum of P5 million or 21 years of imprisonment or both based on Sections 28 and 73 of the Securities Regulation Code. (PR)


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