Investment Scams Using Internet Seen to Thrive

Investment scams using the Internet as platform are expected to proliferate, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned yesterday.

According to Lalaine P. Monserrate, assistant director for Enforcement and Investor Protection Department of the SEC, one of the biggest challenges of regulators today is how to contain investment scams using the Internet or social media to run their illegal activities.

“There is no paper trail, payments are made through bank account that are often changed, debit or credit cards,” Monserrate told media at a forum sponsored by Sun Life Asset Management Co. Inc. (SLAMCI). SLAMCI is the fund manager and subsidiary of Sun Life Financial Philippines Inc.

Monserrate said scammers are global in scope, thus encompassing different jurisdictions, different laws. For example, the use of bitcoin or virtual currency is accepted in some countries but it is not recognized in the Philippines.

The regulator said they had received a number of complaints from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) victimized by scammers using the Internet as their platform.

“The scammers are two steps ahead of the Philippine regulators. We have asked the help of information technology (IT) experts of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and other agencies for intervention,” Monserrate said.

The SEC official said the estimated amount of cash lost to investment scams range from P5 billion to P25 billion.

Monserrate said Filipinos fall victim to scammers because of greed or the get-rich-syndrome, too much trust, and the lack of financial literacy and awareness.

The Ponzi and the pyramiding schemes are two of the more popular investment scams.



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