EDITORIAL | Investment scams

Ako Bicol partylist representative Alfredo Garbin Jr. is reviving talks of possibly passing the proposed bill that grants the SEC the legal function to file appropriate charges against dubious investment schemes in the Philippines.

He believes the SEC “must investigate, suspend, revoke business documents, and file charges directly with the government prosecutors in the cities and towns where the head offices of the suspected scammers are located.”

This is certainly worth looking into, especially since the SEC advisories, which have reached 17 this year alone, don’t seem to be enough to dissuade shady businesses from engaging into such deceptive practices that exploit everyone from teachers to OFWs to retirees.

Yet apart from giving the SEC such legal powers, there must be concerted effort from the government to educate the public about these schemes.

With the widespread use of social media and other forms of communication, it has never been this easy for persuasive individuals to convince the people they know to invest in these schemes.

The tricky thing is that many of them appear fairly legitimate, supplying screenshots of payouts and photos of people who did get rich.

What the government may do, perhaps, is to use the very same tactics employed by the shady investment companies—that is, to launch a massive and thoughtfully-designed information campaign, which the PNP, DepEd, DTI, and media, among others, may help spread.

The campaign may highlight, for instance, the classic red flags, such as get-rich-quick schemes, guaranteed returns with almost no risk, focus on positive testimonials from other members and investors, rushing one into investing money right away, free lunch, seminar, or coffee in exchange for investment, and a process that relies on “secrets,” “special connections,” and “inside information.”

Meantime, the government may continue to encourage critical thinking and financial literacy to keep Filipinos away from these schemes and rely on good old hard work to earn a living.