The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) again warns the public against individuals and groups engaged in unauthorized investment-taking activities disguised as cryptocurrency trading and franchising. 

In separate advisories issued on February 9, the Commission advised the public to exercise caution when dealing with Jams Mart, Solmax Global Limited and Igniter 100, as well as BitAccelerate. 

It said all three groups have not secured the necessary licenses to offer securities for sale within the Philippines, as required under the Securities Regulation Code. 

The SEC warned all individuals or entities involved in the unauthorized investment-taking activities of the strict penalties provided under the Securities Regulation Code, and other laws, rules and regulations enforced by the Commission. 

The Securities Regulation Code, for one, punishes those who act as salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents with a maximum fine of P5 million or imprisonment of up to 21 years or both. 

Similarly, those who invite or recruit others to join or invest in such venture or offer investment contracts or securities to the public may incur criminal liability, or otherwise be sanctioned or penalized accordingly.

Jams Mart, which is headed by a certain Niño Luis A. Jamili, is not registered with the SEC either as a corporation or as a partnership. 

The group has been offering investments to the public through its franchise investment program, where investors are promised up to 300 percent or returns within one year. 

Solmax Global and Igniter 100, meanwhile, have been enticing the public to invest in their initial coin offering (ICO) through Filipino Independent Marketing Partners (IMP). 

Supposedly based in London, Solmax and Igniter 100 are operated by Florian Krueger, Serge Meulenbelt, Abdul Rehman Sandhu, Steven Lubka, Thelma Dhlovu, Aarron Bates, and Asim Mirza,

The SEC identified its IMPs as Anna Lisa, Diane Sawali, Roberto Dulin, Aizel Alana, Ehmerson Ilagan, Jennifer Plata, Meri Reyes, Elphed Reyes Stephen Carreon, Renmar Sombilon, Jemar Tarsita, Melchor Parojinog, Reynald Atillo, Fatima Atillo, Marilou Van Meeteren, Michelle Canay, Robinson Diaz, Ferzael Ebueng, Susan Borja Ramos, and Jimbert Aton. 

The investment packages range from £25 to £5,000, with a total guaranteed passive income of 1 percent per day for a total of 200 percent for 200 days. The investor could increase their returns to 2 percent per day for 100 days if they could recruit at least three more into the scheme. 

The SEC warned that Solmax and Igniter 100, despite claiming legitimacy abroad, may be operating a Ponzi scheme, wherein early-stage investors are likely to be paid out from investments of new investors instead of from the sale of legitimate products or services. 

Both entities have not secured a license from the SEC to conduct its ICO within the Philippines. 

BitAccelerate, which also operates under the names, BA, and BitAccelerator, claims to be operating a crowdfunding international platform that provides investors both long-term active and passive income. 

Investors could supposedly generate income from BitAccelerate’s compensation plans, depending on the number of referrals or membership fees they have gathered. Investors could generate up to 350 percent maximum passive income from their investments, or about 2 percent to 8 percent daily profit. 

The Commission reminded the public that cryptocurrencies are very volatile and involve a higher degree of risk, making any promise of lucrative returns “truly ambiguous.”(James A. Loyola)