The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has advised the public not to deal with two firms offering investment schemes to the public that are posing as an online job platform and a retail outlet.
In its advisory, the SEC said the operations of Ariamall/Amelia Mall Philippines Inc. and Eatcited Pasalubong Center are similar to that of a Ponzi scheme, where money from new investors are used in paying fake profits to prior investors and is designed mainly to favor its top recruiters.
According to its report, Ariamall is using a fake certificate of incorporation. It is engaged in a scheme known as tasking and recharging, where the public is invited to online jobs by performing certain tasks for a promise of receiving monetary rewards.
These are called commissions, the agency said.
Once the tasks are completed, the investor will be given another task to perform for the same promise of receiving commissions which can only be withdrawn upon payment of what they call a tax charge.
“An investment contract exists in tasking and recharging scheme as there is an investment or placement of money in a common enterprise with a reasonable expectation of profits to be derived from the efforts of others,” the SEC said.
As such, the Securities Regulation Code requires that the said offer and sale of securities must be duly registered with the agency and that the concerned entity and/or its agents should have the appropriate registration and/or license to sell such securities to the public.
“Further, tasking and recharging scheme, has the characteristics of a Ponzi scheme,” the SEC said.
Eatcited Pasalubong Center, meanwhile, is registered with the Department of Trade and Industry as a sole proprietorship. It operates in Tayabas, Quezon.
As appearing in its social media posts, the company claims that it is looking for partners or silent investors for a short- or long-term contract with the possibility of earning money up to 120 percent for a period of 12 months.
“Accordingly, the minimum investment for their food delivery services is P20,000 with a guaranteed 5 percent earnings per month; and the maximum investment is P500,000 for a guaranteed 10 percent earnings per month,” the SEC said.
The agency said its business activity falls within the purview of an investment contract.
“As to the kind of business structure they are engaged in, Eatcited through its Facebook advertisements impliedly admitted that it is in partnership with other local investors and are willing to expand or merge with other people/group in other areas,” the SEC said.
The agency said the company’s operation is also akin to a Ponzi scheme and the firm is not registered with the SEC.