Public warned against investment schemes disguised as reseller businesses

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has advised the public to exercise caution when dealing with individuals or groups pitching reseller business partnerships as a front for their unauthorized investment schemes.

In separate advisories issued on April 14, the Commission called out the investment-solicitation and -taking activities of JOCALS688 Beauty and Wellness Products Trading, Inc., TBCMMP Masa Mart, Inc. and CashCowRobot.

JOCALS688 entices the public to invest P10,000 to P100,000 with an assured 30% monthly return. Alternatively, one may pay a smaller amount of P3,980 to become a member and receive certain products.

Members can earn money through direct selling and the buy-and-earn program of the entity headquartered in Zamboanga del Sur. In addition, they may receive so-called direct referral, pairing and unilevel bonuses.

Even if there are products involved, the scheme relies heavily on inviting people for a promise of high monetary rewards. Using a referral link, one can recruit a member and earn P500 for every successful registered account.

Also, the products distributed by JOCALS688 are not registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company neither has a license to operate from the FDA-Center for Food Regulation and Research.

TBCMMP Masa Mart, meanwhile, offers a package priced of products for P5,888. The deal comes with instant benefits such as products worth 75% of the amount invested, free annual subscription worth $10 and a $100 investment in The Billion Coin (TBC), which the SEC likewise flagged in a separate advisory.

One may earn through the Helping Others Task Program or the 1:5 Helping Formula promoted by Masa Mart. Under the scheme, a new member will only have to recruit five people to enjoy the benefits.

Selling products is another way of earning money in Masa Mart. However, at least three of the 40 products offered by Masa Mart have been the subject of FDA advisories.

One may also gain from subscribing to the TBC Cookie Rewards and UMC Masa Coin. Upon payment of the subscription fee ranging from $25 to $20,000, the investor may earn 30% monthly to 2,561.81% per annum.

CashCowRobot, on the other hand, offers the public an opportunity to earn as much as P8,000 per day by recruiting more members, completing tasks online and selling digital products.

To join the program, one only needs to pay P1,000 for a lifetime membership. The investor may then receive unlimited referral commissions, pairing bonuses and compensation for selling products and completing tasks online.

The investment schemes of JOCALS688, TBCMMP Masa Mart and CashCowRobot constitute the sale and offering of securities, which shall not be sold or offered for sale or distribution within the Philippines without a registration statement duly filed with and approved by the SEC.

Records of the Commission show neither JOCALS688, TBCMMP Masa Mart nor CashCowRobot is authorized to solicit investments from the public, not having secured prior registration and/or license to sell securities or solicit investments as prescribed under Republic Act No. 8799, or The Securities Regulation Code.

JOCALS688 and TBCMMP Masa Mart are registered corporations. However, such registration only grants them juridical personality and does not authorize them to issue, sell or offer for sale securities to the public nor engage in business activities requiring a secondary license from the SEC.

CashCowRobot, meanwhile, is purportedly registered with the Department of Trade and Industry as CashCowRobot Computer Solutions, an entity owned by a certain Khen Narajo Salce and headquartered in Misamis Occidental. Such registration similarly limits CashCowRobot from soliciting investments from the public.

Those who act as salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents of fraudulent investment schemes may be held criminally liable and penalized with a maximum fine of P5 million or imprisonment of 21 years or both under the Securities Regulation Code.

Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, further penalizes those participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic 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.