THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning the public against more groups operating investment schemes without authorization from the government.

The country’s corporate regulator issued new advisories against four groups that offer get-rich-quick opportunities to the public. These are the Bayanihan Program of Billy Ford Andrada; My Gold Rev/My Gold Rev Philippines; Friend$hip/Friend$hip Philippines; and World of Captcha (WOC).

The SEC said all four of them are not registered with the commission and do not have the secondary license required to solicit investments.

For engaging in investment schemes without clearance from the government, the SEC said they have violated the Securities Regulation Code and may be punished with a fine of up to P5 million, imprisonment of up to 21 years, or both.

The names of salesmen, brokers, dealers and agents behind the groups will also be reported to the Bureau of Internal Revenue for appropriate penalties.

“Everyone is reminded that aside from the strict penalties imposed by the commission…, the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Republic Act No. 11469) also punishes those participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the current COVID-19 crisis situation to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent e-mails, or other similar acts,” the SEC said.

Bayanihan Program gets investors by enticing the public to put down a minimum of P2,000 in exchange of a 50% return on investment, with bonuses such as a 5% direct referral bonus and a 15% direct commission.

My Gold Rev operates by offering passive income through investment packages worth $20-100,000 in exchange of total returns ranging from 260% to 450%.

Friend$hip masks itself as an online referral business operating from the United States and entices the public to pay a subscription fee of $7.99 (about P385) to get $1 for every successful referral.

WOC runs a captcha typing business where investors may participate by buying plans priced P200-1,000 and earn through captcha typing and referral bonuses.

The SEC said these groups operate investments schemes that are considered as selling securities and should therefore be registered with the commission.

“The public is advised not to invest or stop investing in any investment scheme being offered by (the groups identified) and to exercise caution in dealing with any individuals or group of persons soliciting investments for and on behalf of (them),” it said. — Denise A. Valdez