THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has flagged groups operating investment schemes and lending facilities without regulatory authorization.

In separate advisories on its website, the SEC identified and Immediate Edge as unlicensed solicitors of investments, and Act Machineries as an unauthorized financing company.

It warned the public not to engage or stop engaging with the groups as their operations are not regulated by authorities.

In the case of Crowdbit-88, the SEC said the group recruits members through an “Invest, Wait and Earn” scheme. Interested investors may put in as low as P100 or P1,000, depending on their preferred package, and get a 200% return on investment in 15 days. Members may also earn bonuses through referrals of new investors.

Similarly, Immediate Edge uses digital platforms to invite members to invest and earn passive income. The SEC said the group claims to use cryptocurrencies for buying and selling, and members may invest a minimum of $250 (about P12,100) to get a 380% to 780% daily profit.

In both cases, the SEC said the activities are questionable because neither Crowdbit-88 nor Immediate Edge has authority to solicit investments from the public.

It said Crowdbit-88’s operation is equivalent to selling securities in the form of investment contracts because it promises passive income. The SEC noted a certain Crowdbit-88 Beauty Products Trading has been registered as a business name in July 2020, but it did not secure registration to solicit investments.

Immediate Edge, on the other hand, was tagged as running a possible Ponzi scheme modeled after other cryptocurrency scams, such that it uses money from new investors to pay earlier investors. The SEC said the group is not registered and does not have a license to solicit investments.

The activities of Crowdbit-88 and Immediate Edge violate the Securities Regulation Code, which penalizes the persons behind them with a fine of up to P5 million, imprisonment of up to 21 years, or both.

For Act Machineries, the SEC said it found the group to be engaged in lending activities, which is a regulated business that requires a certification.

However, the group did not have any record with the SEC as a registered corporation, nor a certificate to operate as a lending or financing company.

This violates Republic Act No. 9474 or the Lending Company Regulation Act, and Republic Act No. 8556 or the Financing Company Act, which prohibits the operation of any lending or financing company without authority from the SEC.

“In view of the foregoing, the public is hereby advised to avoid or stop participating in any kind of credit activities conducted by Act Machineries and dealing with any individual representing it,” it said. — Denise A. Valdez