The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has exposed a new batch of scammers peddling illegal get-rich-quick schemes while the nation is suffering from the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The SEC issued on April 28 a warning against three new groups: CROWD1 Asia Paci­fic Inc., Sharebiz Ads/Sharebiz Advertising/Sharebiz Online Advertising Services, and Winners Ecommerce International Network Corp. (Wincorp).

The SEC alleged the three entities have no secondary license to solicit and take investments from the public as required under Republic Act No. 8799, or The Securities Regulation Code.

The SEC also found no record of either Sharebiz and Wincorp being registered as corporations or partnerships. CROWD1 is incorporated with the SEC but it still needs a secon­dary license before it could engage in investment-solicitation activities.

Under its scheme, CROWD1 supposedly offers membership packages worth P6,000 to P240,000. An investor is enticed with bonuses simply by joining, sponsoring newer members and recruiting more people.

CROWD1 promises residual incomes or bonuses supposedly from its digital gaming business. Upon joining, a member acquires a so-called owner right, which would entitle him or her to a share in the company’s total reve­nues from affiliate income.

The SEC, however, no­ted that CROWD1 would earn mainly from the recruitment of members through a pyramiding scheme. Most of the games touted by the group are unavailable in the Philippines.

Sharebiz offers three entry packages worth P330 to P1,100. An investor may earn by recruiting members, encoding captcha, selling products and converting a portion of earnings into the so-called BIZCOIN.

The group, founded by a certain Lawrence Menor Ibarra in Iriga City, Camarines Sur, allegedly offers a BIZCOIN-focused compensation plan. One may invest P500 to 50,000 and supposedly earn a 42-percent interest every 20 days within a two-month period by simply logging into one’s account. Simply, an investor receives passive income from the pool of investment gathered and acquires active income from recruitment under Sharebiz’s modus operandi, which the SEC said resembled a Ponzi scheme.

Wincorp likewise offers entry packages worth P4,888 to P39,998 with 200 to 1,600 equivalent points. An investor may allegedly earn P1,000 daily, P20,000 weekly or P30,000 monthly by selling products and recruiting members.

For instance, one is entitled to an indefinite commission to be credited to this investor’s 10-in-1 wallet every time the downline network purchases products. This investor also supposedly receives as much as P1,200 to P9,600 for every match in the network.

The group headed by a certain Edwin Bermundo Moratillo, also known as Win Bermundo Olinquino, allegedly entices the public to join through a program called “commission deductions,” where a prospective member may avail of the entry package without having to immediately pay for it.

Meanwhile, the SEC also named a certain Aiza Mercado as promoter of My Profit Robot, the subject of a previous advisory.

According to the SEC, those acting as salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents of fraudulent investment schemes may be held criminally liable and may face a maximum fine of P5 million or imprisonment of 21 years or both under the securities law. Those who invite or recruit others to join or invest in such ventures may likewise incur criminal liability and/or sanctioned accordingly.

Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, also penalizes participants of cyber incidents that take advantage of the pandemic to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails or other similar acts. They may face two months of imprisonment or a maximum fine of P1 million, or both.

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