Spotting investment scams in the Philippines

If you’re an aspiring investor and you want to protect your money from scammers in the Philippines, this is for you. This is subsequently posted on talksfinance.com.

I’ve been investing in different types of investments for more than a year now. Though still a newbie in this field, I was able to discover how scammers work in deceiving aspiring and innocent investors out of the market exchange.

Just recently, I’ve seen an offer on Facebook enticing people to invest for as low as 500 pesos. According to the post, your money is going to double in 12 days. Many people were able to pay out their original investment plus the promised interest. I’ve also seen good testimonies posted on the Facebook page of the said investment company. It looked legit since the operators were using the money to trade in forex and crypto. However, after a month or so, the CEO allegedly disappeared, leaving the investors behind without a return on investment.

For people who are new to investing, that kind of offer is really interesting. I, myself, have thought of joining in the hopes that my small savings would double by waiting for less than two weeks without doing anything. Turned out it’s one of the “scampanies” targeting small and ignorant investors on social media.

No one would want to be the next victim of fraud. I don’t want you to fall for this trap. As early as now, you should be able to distinguish legit investments from “scampanies.” And, in case you’re looking for a guide, here are my thoughts about spotting investment scams in the Philippines.

You can spot an investment scam through its revenue model. If the return is too good to be true (ie. 200% ROI in 12 days), think twice. Banks can only give you less than 1% in a month for your savings. Pag-Ibig MP2’s dividend rate is 6–8% in a year. 200% is absurd, especially if the company is new. Even some businesses that have been around for years are not earning 200% of their capital in a year. What more if the company is new and doesn’t have a history of profitability?

Don’t get fooled by investment companies showing you their DTI registration. It’s not proof that they are doing legal businesses! DTI registration is only a document certifying that such a business name is registered and used. It’s not a permit to do business or solicit investments.

What you should look at is the company’s registration with SEC. This government agency regulates companies soliciting investments. As far as I know, two permits are needed for a business to accept investments. A secondary license is required for the company to operate legally. To check the license, read what’s written on it. The license should have a statement allowing the company to solicit investments.

It’s actually easy to tell people that such a company is earning through trading, farming, real estate, and other types of businesses. But, actions speak louder than words. Instead of believing in words alone, ask for proof of the company’s sources of income. Ask for financial reports (balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement, projections, etc.). If you are truly being treated as an investor, the company should be willing to disclose its sources of income and formal reports to show its earnings.

When checking the documents the company shows to you, be extra careful as it might send you fake reports or files it grabbed somewhere else. Familiarize yourself with typical financial reports such as balance sheets and income statements.

Don’t push through with the investment without a contract or shares certificate. You need these documents to prove the investment company’s obligation to give you the return on investment after the specified period of time. In case the company defaulted or failed to deliver the promised return, you can use the contract as evidence when you file a complaint or initiate litigation. The shares certificate, on the other hand, serves as evidence that you own equity in the company. By the time you decide to sell your shares, you will have something to present to your potential buyers.

If the company is new, do a background check on people who are behind the business. Check if they have legitimate social media and business accounts. If they are using dummy profiles, they are most likely fraud. Use every resource you can find to know more about the person who’s claiming to be the CEO or President of the company. You should be able to find significant information about the person’s professional background. Without proof that the person is really trading, for example, you’re more than free to back out.

Always do your due diligence when investing. Just because someone says he’s investing in crypto, stocks, or forex, which can be really profitable, doesn’t mean he’s legit and won’t run after he got your money. Be extra careful when doing transactions online. You’ll never know when you’ll get scammed.

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