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

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

All of these three entities have no secondary license to solicit and take investments form the public as required under Republic Act No. 8799, or The Securities Regulation Code.

The SEC 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 offers membership packages worth P6,000 to P240,000. An investor is enticed with bonuses which can be supposedly earned by simply 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 this member to a share in the company’s total revenues from affiliate income.  

The SEC, however, noted that CROWD 1 earns mainly from the recruitment of members in 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, also offers a BIZCOIN-focused compensation plan. One may invest P500 to 50,000 and supposedly earn 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 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 such network.
 
The group headed by a certain Edwin Bermundo Moratillo, also known as Win Bermundo Olinquino, further 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 exposed a certain Aiza Mercado as promoter of My Profit Robot (MPR), the subject of a previous advisory.
 
The SEC warned that those acting 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 law.  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 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.

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