The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has flagged five more entities that are illegally soliciting investments from the public, taking advantage of the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to siphon off people’s hard-earned money.

In separate advisories da­ted April 7, the SEC warned the public against investing in Cryptec, CryptoPeso, V2R Trades, Lao Razon Trading and/or Lao Razon Marketing and Sakto Online Advertising.

Cryptec is a nonlicensed offshore cryptocurrency broker u­sing the http://cyptec.io domain. It is operated by Point Place Ltd. in the Commonwealth of Dominica. It offers different trading accounts promising a 50-percent to 150-percent trading bonus. It is soliciting investments ranging from $250 to more than $500,000.

Cryptec uses the leverage system as an investment strategy by retaining a portion of the investor’s money as securities and using it for other businesses or ventures, the SEC said.

As an additional tactic, Cryptec’s account managers frequently and persistently converse with investors online to solicit bigger amounts, with the promise of higher returns.

CryptoPeso solicits investments online in the guise of a mobile token wallet and payment application. It is operated by Blockxperts Inc. of Larrimar Espiritu Tia, who also serves as chief innovative officer of Indigen, the corporation that introduced the “unilevel marketing program” in the CryptoPeso application.

This year, the new version of the CryptoPeso mobile application was launched with a program that requires an investment of at least P2,000 from members plus a P500 activation fee.

The amount invested will be converted into CryptoPeso, or PHPc, which will be locked in for three to 24 months. The profit depends on the amount invested and the lock-in period selected by the investor. For instance, a minimum investment of P2,500 could supposedly earn P15,000 after three months.

In addition, CryptoPeso offers affiliates commissions for every recruit who registers and invests using the referral link under its Unilevel Marketing Program.

V2R Trades solicits investments online, offering compensation packages worth P5,700 to P285,000 and promises a 33 percent monthly return. Investors are promised with daily rewards amounting from P50 to P5,000 alongside other rewards.

Dumaguete-based Lao Razon Trading/Lao Razon Marketing group headed by John Luis Razon promises a 30 percent to 500 percent compounding income within a one- to six-month period for an investment of P500 to P5 million. It also allows members to supposedly earn as much as P28,000 by purchasing products worth a minimum of P2,000. It guarantees a 5-percent direct referral and a 1-percent interest referral commission bonus alongside rewards, such as laptops, motorcycles, cars, and houses and lots.

Sakto Online Advertising entices the public to buy pac­kages of Sakto Amazing Detergent Powder worth P198 to P13,986 and resell them or recruit members to make profits. The group was founded by a certain Rosulo Vigilia Cabusora Jr. in Satiago City, Isabela.

Based on SEC records, Cryptec, Point Place, CryptoPeso, Blockxperts, Indigen, V2R Trades, Lao Razon Trading and/or Lao Razon Marketing and Sakto Online Advertising have not secured the necessary licen­ses to solicit investments from the public, as required by Republic Act No. 8799, or the Securities Regulation Code.

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

Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, penalizes those participating in cyber incidents that take advantage of the current crisis to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails with two-month imprisonment or a maximum fine of P1 million or both. —DORIS DUMLAO ABADILLA

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