SEC Chair Emilio Aquino

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned the public against dealing with individuals and groups exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to defraud investors and consumers.

In separate advisories, the SEC has flagged at least 14 groups engaged in unauthorized investment-taking activities and other fraudulent activities since the declaration of a national public health emergency amid the COVID-19 contagion.

The SEC urged the public not to invest in MAGINVESTKA.ONLINE (MIK.O), which purportedly trades bitcoin against the US dollar, as well as Azenzo-Online, which supposedly operates as an independent crowdfunding platform.

MIK.O is operated by a person or persons using the pseudonym “Mag Forex.” It entices the public to invest supposedly with a guaranteed 2-percent return daily or 200 percent in total for a period of 100 days. 

Azenzo-Online, meanwhile, is propagating a “Deposit-Donation, Withdrawal-Blessing” scheme similar to that of Kapa-Community Ministry International, which was tagged as a perpetrator of a Ponzi-type scam. Azenzo-Online promises a 30 percent return in as early as five, 10 or 15 days and a 100 percent “donation return” after 20 days.

Neither MIK.O nor Azenzo-Online registered as a corporation or partnership, the SEC said. Furthermore, they did not secure prior registration or license to solicit investments from the public, as required under Sections 8 and 12 of Republic Act No. 8799, or the Securities Regulation Code.

The SEC also flagged the activities of individuals and groups using the names of certain foundations or representing themselves as such.

The SEC particularly warned the public against a text scam using the name of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. Under the scheme, one would receive a text message stating that he or she won P750,000 from the President: Rodrigo Duterte Charity Foundation through an electronic raffle. There is no such foundation registered as a corporation with the SEC.

“We encourage the public to carefully study and examine offers and invitations to participate in schemes promising easy money especially in these difficult times,” SEC chair Emilio Aquino said.

“On our part, the Commission will continue monitoring investment-solicitation activities online and on the ground to stop unscrupulous groups from putting any other burden on Filipinos, especially the vulnerable, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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