The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned the public against scammers taking advantage of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)pandemic to victimize investors and consumers. 

While the entire country’s attention is focused on managing the pandemic, the SEC revealed that some 14 unscrupulous groups have undertaken “unauthorized investment-taking activities and other fraudulent activities”.

In its press statement, the SEC identified one such group as MAGINVESTKA.ONLINE (MIK.O), which “purportedly trades Bitcoin against the US dollar”.

But MIK.O’s website says its “operation ended: March 5, 2020”. 

The SEC also warned the public against the group Azenzo-Online, which supposedly operates as an “independent crowdfunding platform”.  It adopted a “Deposit-Donation, Withdrawal-Blessing” platform comparable to that of Kapa-Community Ministry International, notoriously one of the biggest financial investment fraud scandals in the country.

SEC also bared a text scam dragging the name of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, “stating that he or she won P750,000 from the President: Rodrigo Duterte Charity Foundation through an electronic raffle.”

No record of the President: Rodrigo Duterte Charity Foundation is found in the SEC to show that the foundation is a duly SEC-registered corporation.

People who are in any way involved in false investment activities face charges under the Securities Regulation Code, the Revised Penal Code, the Cyber Crime Law and Data Privacy Act. 

Taking advantage of the pandemic crisis to target the public through “scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts” has additional punishment under Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. 

SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino encouraged the public “to carefully study and examine offers and invitations to participate in schemes promising easy money especially in these difficult times.”  (Jojo Mangahis)