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SEC flags more unauthorized investment schemes

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has flagged more unauthorized investment schemes as it ramps up enforcement efforts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the SEC advised the public against investing in CROWD1 Asia Pacific, Inc., Sharebiz Ads/ Sharebiz Advertising/ Sharebiz Online Advertising Services and Winners Ecommerce International Network Corp. (WINCORP).

“CROWD1, Sharebiz and WINCORP neither have registered securities such as investment contracts nor have secured a secondary license to solicit and take investments from the public, as required under Republic Act No. 8799, or The Securities Regulation Code,” the corporate regulator said.

The SEC said it also found no record of Sharebiz and WINCORP being registered as corporations or partnerships.

While incorporated, CROWD1 must have secured a secondary license before it could engage in investment-solicitation activities, it said.

The SEC advised the public to exercise caution in dealing with any individual or group soliciting investments for and on behalf of CROWD1, Sharebiz and WINCORP.

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

CROWD1 allegedly promises residual incomes or bonuses supposedly from its digital gaming business, the SEC said.

Upon joining, a member acquires a so-called owner right, which would entitle him/her to a share in the company’s total revenues from affiliate income, it said.

The SEC, however, noted that CROWD1 earns mainly from the recruitment of members, as in a pyramiding scheme, with most of the games touted by the group unavailable in the Philippines.

shaSharebiz, meanwhile, 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 his/her earnings into the so-called BIZCOIN.

One may invest P500 to 50,000 and earn a 42% interest every 20 days within a two-month period by simply logging in his/her account.

“Simply, an investor receives passive income from the pool of investment gathered and acquires active income from recruitment under Sharebiz’s modus operandi resembling a Ponzi scheme,” the SEC said.

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, an investor is entitled to an indefinite commission to be credited to his/her 10-in-1 wallet every time his/her downline purchases products. He/she also receives as much as P1,200 to P9,600 for every match in his/her network.

The SEC warned that those who act 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 Regulation Code.

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 make use or 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.

Reports of unauthorized investment solicitation activities may be emailed to the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department at --KBK, GMA News