By Sammy F. Martin
MANILA, July 25 (PNA) — Valenzuela City Rep. Win Gatchalian on Saturday called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to be more proactive in cracking down on so-called investment companies that are actually engaged in pyramiding scams.
Gatchalian issued the appeal in the wake of reports that hundreds of ordinary Filipinos have again been lured by the promise of high returns for their investments with One Dream Global Marketing Inc., whose officers are now the subject of syndicated estafa complaints filed by their victims.
“It is the job of the SEC to scrutinize entities registering as investment companies and deny them the much-needed SEC registration which legitimizes firms engaged in pyramiding scams like One Dream Global Marketing Inc.,” Gatchalian said.
He noted that the complainants who are mostly from Lipa City, Batangas, are ordinary Filipinos who just wanted to double their money in a short period of time.
Media reports said One Dream enticed investors under a profit scheme, with a promised payout of Php1,300 after 4 days for an Php888 investment. But the entity, which only started in May this year, has no permit to engage in selling and marketing investment products.
“My heart bleeds for these poor families who invest their hard-earned money oblivious of the fact that it is basically a pyramiding scheme that has victimized thousands of countrymen over the years. This has got to stop and the SEC has a vital role in this,” he said.
Unfortunately, the SEC has not been proactive in detecting SEC-registered firms engaged in pyramiding scams. What the SEC does is to appeal to those who have information about unauthorized investment-taking activities to report it to the Enforcement and Investor Protection Department.
Over the years, thousands of investors lost their savings from the pyramid scams of companies such as the Grupo Mateo Pilipinas Investors Association Inc. (Mateo Group) headed by Engr. Ervin Mateo and Multinational Telecoms Corp. (Multitel) led by businesswoman Rosario Baladjay.
Mateo and Baladjay were arrested in 2003 but the status of their respective cases filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) remains unclear. Among the victims of the Mateo Group and Multitel were active and retired generals who invested their millions worth of savings hoping to double their money.
More recently in 2012, complaints were filed over the Php12-billion pyramid scam of Aman Futures boss Emmanuel Amalilio aka Mohammad Kamal Sa’aid who is said to be a Malaysian national.
Last year, the Grand Alliance of Business Leaders Association Inc (Gabai), reported to be the marketing arm of the South Luzon Multipurpose Cooperative (SLMC), allegedly duped its investors into paying as high as Php175,000 weekly for a 40 percent return.
Gatchalian said there are often “red flags” that can be observed from scam operators providing false information when they register their firms with the SEC.
“The SEC can create a team who will check on these questionable investment firms applying for SEC registration. The same team can review the list of registered firms suspected to be engaged in pyramiding and move for the revocation of their registration papers,” Gatchalian said. (PNA)