Investigate before investing, SEC Legazpi reminds public

LEGAZPI CITY -- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) underscored the importance of exercising due diligence before investing to avoid falling into a scammer’s trap, as it named four more groups engaging in unauthorized investment-taking activities.

In separate advisories issued on May 7, the Commission warned the public against dealing with individuals or group

s representing and promoting the Bayanihan Program of Billy Ford Andrada, My Gold Rev/ My Gold Rev Philippines, Friend$hip/ Friend$hip Philippines and World of Captcha (WOC).

Bayanihan Program, My Gold Rev, Friend$hip and WOC have not registered securities such as investment contracts nor secured the necessary licenses to solicit and take investments from the public, as required under Republic Act No. 8799, or The Securities Regulation Code.

In this light, the SEC advised the public against investing in Bayanihan Program, My Gold Rev, Friend$hip and WOC, which have not even registered as corporations or partnerships with the Commission.

Under its Bayanihan Program, Billy Ford Andrada solicits a minimum investment of P2,000 and promises a 50% return plus a 5% direct referral bonus.

To entice more investors, Billy Ford Andrada ran promotions for a 15% direct commission and a P300 bonus for every investment of P2,000 amid the quarantine measures implemented to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SEC earlier identified a certain Billy Ford Delos Santos Andrada as the owner of Billford Trading and Bill Ford VIP Trading, Inc., whose investment-solicitation activities in the guise of a piggery business have been the subject of an earlier advisory.

My Gold Rev, meanwhile, offers business plans for $20 to $100,000. Investors may supposedly earn a daily profit of 2% to 3.5% for 80 to 100 days, or a 260% to 450% return on investment.

Friend$hip, on the other hand, collects a subscription fee of $7.99 or P385. Members receive $1 for every referral in the first to the fifth levels of their network.

Friend$hip recently launched its second investment option: a subscription plan with landing page at $11 or P935. Under this plan, investors may earn $1 per successful referral and another $1 per purchased landing page up to the fifth level.

Friend$hip claims to be an American company with a business address in New Jersey, USA. The group is headed by Rodnelio “Ron” Chang Capua as president and chief executive officer, according to various Facebook posts.

WOC also solicits investments from the public in the guise of an online business. It offers plans worth P200 to P1,000 where members could supposedly earn P300 to P1,500 by typing CAPTCHA.

In addition, WOC promises bonuses ranging from P20 to P100 for direct referrals and P5 to P25 for indirect referrals up to the fifth level. It also offers a program where members can purchase 75 codes and get 10 free codes for P15,000 for the purpose of reselling them.

Both plans expire after eight days, pushing members to purchase new plans and/or upgrade to continue earning under the scheme headed by a certain Charles Serrano.

The SEC warned that 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.

Those who invite or recruit others to join or invest in such ventures may likewise incur criminal liability, or otherwise be sanctioned or penalized accordingly.

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.