Scam alert: Filipinos warned of investment scheme

Philippine Embassy says Paysmart offering 30% returns within 15 days is run by an illegal firm

Abu Dhabi: Filipinos in the UAE have been warned against a new investment scheme that may be fraudulent and promises returns of up to 30 per cent in 15 days.

The Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, based on an advisory by Manila’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), warned against Paysmart Limited Philippines (Paysmart) that offers investments to the public and claims to be engaged in offshore trading of stocks.

According to the SEC advisory, Paysmart is not registered as a corporation or partnership in the Philippines and is therefore not authorised to solicit investments from the public.

Entities that seek investments from the Philippine public are required by law to secure prior registration and/or licence from SEC under Section 8 of the Securities Regulation Code.

Paysmart has been found to be targeting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Israel, Italy, Dubai, and Norway. Promises of returns on investment range from 30 per cent in just 15 days or 60 per cent in 60 days.

An investor can shell out $23 (Dh84.41) as a minimum investment and a maximum of $9,000. To register, investors must click on the link provided, which would then lead them to the PAYSMART Dashboard.

“The public is hereby advised to exercise caution in investing their money in schemes which may turn out to be fraudulent, involving the sale of unregistered securities,” the advisory read.

The SEC said entities or individuals who sell or offer securities to the public who are not registered with the commission may be held criminally liable or accordingly sanctioned or penalised in accordance with the Supreme Court Decision in the case of Securities and Exchange Commission vs. Oudine Santos (G.R. No. 195542, March 19, 2014).

The warning came just months after a $300 million Exential Forex scam left as many as 7,000 UAE residents, many of whom are Filipinos, in financial distress. The get-rich-quick scheme promised 120 per cent returns on a $25,000 investment.

The Exential agents who fleeced unsuspecting investors of their hard-earned money were slapped with 500-year prison sentences early this year.

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