SEC: Smart investing best defense versus scammers

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DAVAO CITY—Be smart in investing.

This is the advice the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) could give in commemorating last week’s World Investor Week in a sharp rebuke to the spike in scamming activities in the country as crooks beguile on newbies in financial transaction, notably in mobile banking and electronic transactions, forced by the exigency of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The SEC advised Filipinos “to secure their financial future by becoming smart investors so that they may protect their hard-earned money and avoid fraudulent entities.”

It said the International Organization of Securities Commissions (Iosco) defines a smart investor “as one who researches investment opportunities independently, avoids get-rich-quick schemes and never discloses personal information on an unexpected call or other communication.”

“A smart investor should also verify that the investment professional they are transacting with is duly licensed; [and should] understand the risks that exists in all investments, and plan for investments based on their future needs and goals,” the SEC said.

Moreover, it said, a smart investor “realizes the value of sustainable finance, whether it be environmental, social, and governance investing, socially responsible investing, or impact investing.”

The SEC hosted a free online lecture and presentation last Friday showing how to spot and unmask investment scams.

The World Investor Week put a spotlight on promoting investor protection, and this year’s theme focused on sustainable finance and the prevention of frauds and scams.

“The SEC is pleased to take part in this year’s World Investor Week, taking cues from the Iosco’s mission to boost financial literacy in order to promote sustainable economic growth and prevent the spread of scam and fraud among the investing public,” SEC chairman Emilio B. Aquino said.

Aquino further said that a scam-free financial environment would be possible “if we work together with the public in exposing and avoiding fraudulent schemes.”

As of October 5, the regulator has issued 87 advisories against groups and individuals who have been soliciting investments from the public without the necessary license from the SEC. A total of 126 and 50 advisories were issued last year and 2019, respectively.

The SEC said it has issued four cease-and-desist orders against 15 groups and individuals and filed 48 cases currently pending in court for violations of Republic Act 8799, or The Securities Regulation Code (SRC).

So far, a total of 187 individuals have been charged with violations of the SRC, with the SEC securing 17 judgments of convictions against 19 individuals meted with a total of imprisonment of 572 years and a total fine of P25 million imposed by various courts.