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SEC warns against investment scams in Bicol

LEGAZPI CITY – “Investigate before you invest your hard-earned money.”

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Regional Director Marylou Duka-Castillo aired this advice to  Bicolano would-be investors in the face of reports that certain companies are engaged in investment solicitation without prior registration or license from the commission.

“Be vigilant. In dealing with corporations, make sure that the papers are authentic and updated. If the offer is too good to be true, then it’s not true,” Castillo said during a press conference held today at the Hotel St. Ellis here.

Castillo said many people are enticed to invest in scams due to promise of higher returns and profits.

She said Most of the victims are people with money to invest including doctors, policemen, businessmen and even retirees who put in millions of money from their hard-earned retirement pay.

 They just ended up being scammed and wasted, she said.

To avoid being scam victims, she urged the public to inquire first at SEC before putting investment.

She said getting informed is the first line of defense against investment scams.

“Be informed of what a scam is. It easily gravitates as there is promise of money or higher returns. Take the necessary steps to protect your hard-earned money,” Castillo said.

SEC legal counsel Fiona Mae Corral-Bobis said that most of the corporations involved in scams in Bicol are branches of corporations based in Metro Manila.

 Bobis noted that notices are issued and posted at their website (http://www.sec.gov.ph) to inform and warn the public. Advisories and notices are issued first before issuing a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) to corporations proven to be involved in scams.

 However, Bobis said some of these companies tend to “morph” and change their name to disguise their operations.

“Issuance of notice to the public means investigation is being conducted. At times, however, these warned companies morph into other names,” she said.

 She continued: “The SEC only has regulatory power. We cannot penalize but part of what we can do is to help the victims in filing complaint against the scammers.” .

 Moreover, actions to be taken on scams are dependent on referrals such as tips and complaints since it must be supported by evidence, said Bobis.

Bobis stressed that a SEC company registration does not grant the authority to sell investment instruments such as securities, bonds, and commercial papers.

 She said companies need separate license to lend or ask for investment.

 “Some of the supposed investment companies usually present only the green one, the basic Certificate of Incorporation, proving that they are SEC registered but registration alone is not an assurance of freedom from scam. They need to have the license to have the authority to lend or solicit investments,” she said.

Among the corporations registered to solicit investments from the public and are currently operating in Bicol are One Dream Global Marketing, FarmOn/FarmOn Agricultural Production, Klikmart Shopping Club Corp and Success200 International Marketing Corporation.

 For the list of corporations cited in SEC advisories and notices, visit http://www.sec.gov.ph/public-information-2/investors-education-and-information/advisories-and-notices/ (EAD/SAA/PIA5 Albay)

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