The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) have arrested 19 officers of a company allegedly specializing in investment scam by promising investors of fast and guaranteed returns from crypto currencies.
The SEC in a statement said the 19 officers of Decentra were caught in an entrapment operations in a hotel in Quezon City while in the act of soliciting investments from the public without a license.
The SEC, through a mission order dated June 10, authorized and deputized a team of the PNP-ACG personnel and Enforcement and Investor Protection Department (EIPD), to conduct the joint entrapment operation, after receiving an email tip on Decentra’s unauthorized investment solicitation activities.
The suspects, identified as Arnel Laxa, Michael Anderson, Arnold Black, Rodolfo A. Asadan, Roberto A Betinol, Fritzie Abalde, Nely Carvajal, Wyndell Español, Jenny A Tampulan, Alice Fabroa, Lawrence Ruiz, Kieth Reñola, Mary Joy Mendoza, Joy Esclamado, Rose Marie Razon, Analiza Narvaez, Warpath Chu, Teodorick Acuña, and Fe Paglingayen, were booked for violation of Republic Act No. 8799, or the Securities Regulation Code (SRC), for publicly offering securities without a license from the SEC.
Criminal cases against the Decentra officers, two of them foreign nationals, were subsequently filed before the Department of Justice on June 12.
Decentra was found to be offering several investment packages online, with an initial membership fee of 99.95 Tether (USDT). Tether is a stable cryptocurrency hosted on the Etherium and Bitcoin blockchains, which was originally designed to always be worth US$1, maintaining US$1 in reserves for each tether issued.
Based on its modus operandi, investors were also required to pay 34.95 USDT per month, or 349.95 USDT per year, in order to access reward opportunities on Decentra’s platform.
Members were promised returns of up to 120 percent of their initial investment, depending on the package they chose and the number of recruits they invite into the system.
Overall, a member could purportedly earn a profit of US$100,000, or P5 million per day, on an investment of US$50,000.
“In view thereof, the public is hereby advised to exercise self-restraint from investing their hard-earned money in such high-yield, high-risk investment scheme and to take the necessary precaution in dealing with individuals representing the above-named entity and not to invest or stop investing in said entity,” the EIPD stated in an advisory.
The SEC has launched a campaign against unauthorized investment schemes and implementing investor education programs to improve financial literacy.
This year, the SEC has so far issued 55 advisories against groups and individuals involved in unauthorized solicitation of investments.