THE CENTRAL BANK warned the public about investment schemes that use its name to lure investors into “too good to be true” offers.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said in a statement on Thursday that some fraudsters have been presenting fake documents which they claim to be under the custody of the central bank or other government agencies.

“The BSP does not hold or safekeep documents and other financial instruments for individuals, corporations, foundations, or nonprofit organizations,” it said, adding that the central bank does not engage in random, direct transactions with individuals and entities.

It noted that some schemes even include fabricated messages from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) that facilitate international transactions.

“SWIFT messages between banks and counter-parties do not pass through the BSP,” it added.

The central bank noted the tell-tale signs of a fabricated SWIFT message, saying these usually involve an “extremely large” amount, unmatched name, codes and addresses of the sender and recipient, and messaging formats that do not conform to SWIFT standards.

The regulator said prospective investors should do a background check on companies offering investment schemes to see whether they are authorized to sell instruments such as securities, bonds, commercial papers.

“It is important to conduct the necessary due diligence prior to committing to an investment opportunity. Try to gather and verify as much information regarding the company offering the investment,” the BSP said.

It also urged the public to reach out to the BSP, Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to report cases of false claims, suspicious or potentially criminal activities.

Last year, the central bank received about 20,000 complaints from financial consumers, with the bulk about fraud and unauthorized transactions. — L.W.T. Noble