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Crypto Scammers Face 21 Years in Prison, Warns Philippines Regulator

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM

In a notice, the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has sternly warned promoters of 14 cryptocurrency investment schemes against soliciting domestic investors.

In an advisory published on Wednesday, the Phillipines SEC urged the public to be wary of fourteen unregistered online investment schemes promising “unrealistic” high-earning returns by claiming to invest in cryptocurrencies including bitcoin to justify such earnings.

With its ever-increasing scrutiny on fraudulent operators, the SEC, upon conducting an investigation, listed fourteen ‘unregistered online investment entities’ that were actively soliciting investments from the general public.

Investment contracts were offered through their Facebook pages or secretive Facebook groups promising returns between 10% to 200% per month, the SEC’s notice revealed.

Named among the 13 investment schemes is Onecash, a purported ‘digital currency trading platform’ that offered investors returns up to 200% in a week. In an indicator of things to come, the SEC issued an advisory to the public last month, warning them against investing in the scheme which accepted new investors at an initial deposit of PHP 1,000 (approx. $50).

The 13 entities are in direct violation of the SEC’s rules for operating without a permit or license, the regulator warned.

Any promoters appearing as salesman, dealers, brokers or agents of these schemes to solicit investments or recruit investors into the schemes are liable to be criminally prosecuted and “penalized with maximum fine of Five Million Pesos (P5,000,000.00) or imprisonment of twenty ne (21) years or both,” the SEC added.

The stark warning comes at a time when a Philippines lawmaker from the country’s’ opposition is pushing for a new bill that seeks a harsher penalty for citizens involved in cryptocurrency crimes.

In its advisory on Wednesday, the SEC also warned the public to be wary of “rampant internet-based bitcoin and cryptocurrency Ponzi schemes” that offer similar high-yield, low-risk returns that typically offer incentives in commissions to rope in new investors.

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