By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

OPERATORS of unauthorized investment schemes posing as resellers have sprung up recently, calling the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to warn the public against investing in these.

The corporate regulator issued advisories on its website against groups named JOCALS688 Beauty and Wellness Products Trading, Inc.; TBCMMP Masa Mart, Inc; and CashCowRobot Computer Solutions.

It said these groups use reseller business models in trying to get investors, but do not have the license from the SEC to solicit investments and sell securities in the form of investment contracts.

In the case of JOCALS688, the SEC said the company secured a registration for incorporation last year, but did not get the secondary license required to be allowed to offer securities.

JOCALS688 operates by offering products such as juice, coffee and food supplements. The investment-taking happens through an investment offer of P10,000-100,000 with a promise of a 30% monthly return. Investors can also join as members for P3,980 to get one box of each of the products aside from the 30% monthly return.

“Further study of JOCALS688’s marketing plan shows that even if there are products involved, the scheme relies heavily on inviting people for a promise of high monetary rewards that can only be achieved through recruitment of more people to participate in the scheme,” the SEC said. “The public is hereby informed that JOCALS688 is not authorized to solicit investments…”

TBCMMP Masa Mart employs a similar scheme, offering the public a P5,888 investment package that includes products worth 75% of the entry and free annual subscription and investment.

Like JOCALS688, the SEC said TBCMMP Masa Mart is registered as a corporation since July 2018. But the company does not have the secondary license required to operate investment schemes. “[S]uch registration merely grants juridical personality to the corporation but does not authorize TBCMMP Masa Mart to issue, sell or offer for sale securities to the public…,” it said.

CashCowRobot, on the other hand, is not registered with the SEC at all, nor does it have a registration to solicit investments and sell securities to the public.

The SEC gathered that CashCowRobot operates by inviting the public to pay a P1,000 lifetime membership fee in exchange for an P8,000 daily income by completing tasks and selling digital products.

“The public is hereby warned that such investment schemes are considered as securities subject to the regulatory authority of this commission. The offering and selling of securities to the public without a permit or license is a violation of… the Securities Regulation Code,” it said.

The people behind these companies may be fined up to P5 million, imprisoned for up to 21 years, or both. The SEC also noted the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which gave additional powers to the President in light of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation, spells penalties for individuals found engaging in cyber incidents such as scams that exploit the situation.