Bitcoins on the background of the flag Philippines.

Philippines regulator warns against 350% return digital currency scam

The Philippines securities regulator has published a public notice warning against a rising cryptocurrency scam. Known as BitAccelerate, the scam lures investors with promises of up to 350% in return on investment. It also warned the scammers that they face over $100,000 in fines and up to 21 years behind bars once convicted.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published the warning on its website, informing the public that BitAccelerate is not authorized to operate in the Philippines. Also going by BitAccelerator, the project claims to be a crowdfunding platform on the blockchain. It purportedly provides a long-term active and passive income investment plan to investors through a referral system.

The payouts are eye-catching. For those that don’t bring in any direct referrals, the payout is 2% daily profit. It rises by one percentage point once you double the direct referrals, with 32 referrals earning an investor an 8% daily profit. The minimum payout is $100, as per its website. It further claims that an investor can make 350% profit in passive income.

BitAccelerate depends on a referral system for its members to earn income. This, as per the SEC, means that it’s dependent on funds from new investors. This “ultimately defeats its claim of sustainability because its whole system depends entirely on the new investors that will be lured in.”

“However, based on our records, BITACCELERATE/BITACCELERATOR is NOT REGISTERED with the Commission and is NOT AUTHORIZED to solicit, accept or take investments/placements from the public nor to issue investment contracts and other forms of securities,” the watchdog asserted.

Furthermore, the company isn’t on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) list of companies dealing in digital assets. The central bank has to authorize any financial entity that aims to get into the Filipino digital assets market.

The SEC further reminded the public that digital currencies are very volatile in nature. Digital asset trading is also highly speculative and involves a high degree of risk, it added. As such, any company that promises a fixed rate of lucrative return is likely a scam.

It also shot a warning to those involved in these scams that the justice system will prosecute and penalize them. They stand to pay a maximum fine of PHP5 million ($104,000) or face up to 21 years in prison, or both.

The SEC has issued such warnings in the past, such as on Mining City, a cloud mining scam that promised $92 daily profit. It also issued a cease and desist order against Forsage, a scam that also posed as a crowdfunding platform.

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups-from BitMEX to BinanceBitcoin.comBlockstreamShapeShiftCoinbaseRipple and Ethereum—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

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