September 26, 2023

Get-rich-quick schemes have been in existence for over a century now. They come in many names and in many forms, but the common method employed then and now to entice investors are promising financial security and quick wealth through interest rates higher than those offered in banks or lending institutions.
In the many years these schemes have been in existence, countless have become victims but only a few became rich – they who enjoyed a luxurious life at the expense of the hard work of people who toiled day and night in the hope of a better life.
Promises of higher interest rates, fast recovery of investment, sweet talk, and display of an opulent lifestyle that many of us, ordinary mortals, can only dream of, have remained the winning formula and the reason why despite the many warnings that these schemes are illegal, these money-making ventures continue to thrive.
Many perpetrators have also remained unpunished and are able to continue with their nefarious business because sadly, their victims refuse to file complaints out of shame for getting duped and to avoid the hassle of litigation as this could take years before the courts could issue a resolution.
Also, victims are hesitant to file a complaint for at some point, they too, participated in an illegal investment scheme especially those involving “recruitment” of “investors.” This sadly becomes a cycle and more people become victims in the process.
We understand why people behind these schemes could easily target vulnerable individuals who are desperate for financial security, as they exploit people’s hopes and dreams by offering unrealistic promises of wealth without requiring any real effort, knowledge, or hard work.
At present, it is harder to catch perpetrators now as these groups have also innovated. Financial fraud has become faster to execute as perpetrators are harder to locate because they use bogus identities, addresses, contact details, and accounts.
In November last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Justice, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and National Telecommunications Commission formed a task force that will solely deal with cases involving investment frauds.
These agencies have also embarked on caravans to educate the public about financial literacy, legitimate investments and how to avoid becoming victims of “high-tech” scams.
Concerned agencies have done their part. We should do ours too. Let us be vigilant and be careful about whom we give information especially personal details such as bank account, pin code, passwords, and addresses.
Stay alert and do not easily panic when you receive anonymous information about a relative needing money. Verify first and inform authorities if you have suspicions. Attend forums organized by the BSP about legitimate investments. These are some of the ways on how we can protect ourselves and how we can curtail the practice of these dubious investment companies.
The public must also be aware of some of the red flags of these schemes such as guaranteed high returns, overly complex strategies, pressure to recruit new participants, and a lack of transparency regarding the investment activities.
Also, keep in mind what financial experts have long been telling the public about no-risk with high returns investments: “If it’s too good to be true, it must be false.”
We also suggest for the public to reexamine their values. While we all want to have a better life, never forget that nothing can replace the value of honesty and hard work.
One may not have all the material wealth one has been dreaming about but being able to feed and send your kids to school using hard-earned money and being able to sleep soundly at night knowing you did not steal other people’s money, should be more than enough consolation.