INVESTMENT scams may have made their way to Cebu, as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Cebu Extension Office said some P200,000 have been invested in scam companies.
SEC Cebu Securities Council II Attorney Alma Marie Dalena said her office received a total of three reports involving three entities from January to August.
One was worth $3,000 (about P140,000), while the others were valued at P30,000 and P12,000, respectively.
Since the cases are still under investigation at the SEC national office, the official said she cannot disclose the name of these companies yet.
“SEC will issue an advisory in our website (www.sec.gov.ph) once it is proven that these entities are involved in scams,” Dalena told Sun.Star Cebu.
In its website, SEC has already issued public advisories naming Global Intergold (formerly EMGOLDEX), One Dream Global Marketing Inc., Mutual Universe Corp. and Wealth Builder Advertising as being unauthorized to solicit investments.
The advisories caution the public against investing in these companies.
Dalena said Emgoldex continues to be visible on social media despite SEC’s warning.
“They know that SEC already issued an advisory about them, pero ang ilang rason ra kay crab mentality daw ning amoa sa SEC (but they reason out that the SEC does not recognize them because of crab mentality),” the official said.
Most vulnerable to investment fraud, according to Delina, are wives of expats, overseas Filipino workers, teachers, and government officials who are promised with quick returns on their investments. These people, she said, may not all have a ready disposable income, but have an easier access to finance, primarily through loans.
“We cannot tell them what to do if they want to invest in companies like that. It’s their money. What we can only do is warn them,” Dalena said.
The SEC Cebu satellite office, which covers Central and Eastern Visayas, has been sending advisories to local government units against these investment scams.
In a recent public service advisory of the Cebu Bankers Club, it warned that fraudsters sound “too good to be true”.
When one promises a guaranteed return of investment, most likely it is a scam, the organization cautioned. The CBC explained that each investment carries some degree of risk, which is reflected in the rate of return one can expect to receive.
Other red flags to note with investment scam companies include: pitches like “everyone is buying it; immediate money is being asked; and through free investment seminars.
For those who have received such offers, Dalena advised the public to inquire at the SEC, by emailing (firstname.lastname@example.org), calling (412-7091) or visiting its office in V. Rama in Cebu City.
“Ask SEC if that entity is registered to do such thing. It is not enough to have just SEC registration,” Dalena said. A SEC company registration does not automatically grant authority to sell investment instruments, such as securities, bonds, commercial papers, or similar financial instruments.
Meanwhile, CBC also encouraged everyone to do an independent research, which means researching beyond the materials provided by these companies, before investing their money.
“If you attend a free lunch, take the material home and research both the investment and the individual selling it before you invest. Always make sure the product is right for you and that you understand what you are buying and all the associated fees,” the organization said.