THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned the public against two entities engaging in lending and financial activities, as they have not secured the license or necessary documents.

The regulator has identified these entities as Philippines First Circle Micro Loan Co. Ltd. and Easy Loan Finance Corp., which have been operating online.

The SEC said both have been victimizing the public through “advanced fee loan scams” that ask would-be clients for an upfront fee to complete an application process. Subsequent fees will then be placed to “unblock” the loan application.

The commission, in an earlier advisory, said that these scams promise the victim large sums of money in return for a small upfront fee. It said individuals engaged in these scams are liable for violating Article 315 on swindling under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the entities have also been posing online as First Circle Growth Finance Corp., which is duly certified and authorized by the SEC to conduct lending and financing activities.

“First Circle Growth Finance Corp. is not affiliated with these entities. They operate through a poorly designed Google Play Store App and bogus website,” the company said in an e-mail correspondence with BusinessWorld.

Initial reports of scams were reported to the company last year, as a concerned individual informed First Circle through its official support channel for verification of the entity.

“Unfortunately, we then continued to get more and more reports from other people on the misdealing of these entities posing as First Circle throughout the year,” it said.

First Circle has reached out to various government departments including the SEC to “understand what the necessary steps are for the victims and our firm.”

The company operates only through its official website and platforms in conducting transactions.

First Circle is a financial technology company that provides small and medium enterprises with financial services. It only operates through its website. — Adrian H. Halili