Philippines SEC warns against Forsage, other digital currency schemes

The securities regulator of the Philippines has issued a warning to investors to be wary, following the publication of its latest round of unauthorized digital currency companies.

In a press release, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) flagged three firms: Forsage, RCashOnline and The Saint John of Jerusalem Knights of Malta Foundation of the Philippines, Inc.

According to the regulator, none of the three have the appropriate licenses or registration requirements in place, leaving investors vulnerable to being scammed. As a result, the SEC said investors should exercise caution and avoid dealing with these firms.

Forsage, led by founder Lado Okhotnikov, is not registered with the regulator, and therefore does not have the legal standing to solicit investments or sell digital currency investment products.

The same is true for RCashOnline, which according to the regulator isn’t even constituted as a partnership or corporation. In the case of Saint John, an earlier license was revoked as far back as 2003, following noncompliance with reporting obligations.

Under the Securities Regulation Code, anyone who engages in unlawful investment activity faces sentences of up to 21 years in prison, in addition to a fine of up to P5 million.

The SEC warning is the latest to come from the regulator, which maintains a list of ‘blacklisted’ companies. With digital currency investment scams on the rise, particularly during the ongoing global health crisis, investors are cautioned to be more diligent than ever before parting with their money.

Other laws are in place to hold to account those participating in cyber-attacks and scams around the COVID-19 crisis, covering scams, frauds and phishing attacks based on the crisis.

“The Commission encourages the public to visit the SEC website to see the advisories it issues regularly and to report unauthorized investment-taking and suspicious activities of corporations to the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department through email at [email protected].”

The regulator is now expected to work with local law enforcement to shut down those operating illegally.

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