SEC sounds alarm vs online scams

ZAMBOANGA CITY –The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has cautioned the public against investment offers through social media platforms as these may be the handiwork of online scammers.

SEC Commissioner Emilio Aquino issued the warning as scammers “are now using the Internet” to dupe people especially those who engaged in start-up businesses by offering attractive investment opportunities.

“Online scam is our biggest problem. Because of advances in technology, they (scammers) have ready access to the market,” Aquino said in a briefing with reporters here.

Aquino was the guest speaker in the two-day Investment Protection, Company Registration System launch and Gender and Development mainstreaming from Wednesday to Thursday.

Aquino said there are also lending firms offering attractive loan package online and “will just disappear once they have collected processing fees.”

“There are a lot of online offers and loans, but these are pseudo and bogus lending companies. They are not registered with us.” Aquino said.

Lawyer Oliver Leonardo, Enforcement and Investor Protection Department assistant director, said would-be investors should check first with the regulators to ensure the company offering investment on-line “have corresponding license, not just SEC registration.

“When you offer investments, it necessitates another type of license with stringent requirements,” Leonardo said, citing “this (Internet) is now the battleground in terms of illegal investment offers.”

Aquino said they have strengthened the conduct of education and information dissemination aside from issuance of warning against on-line scams.

“The most proactive way to protect our investors is through education,” he added.