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Pandemic brings scams but education is key for investors — SEC chief

By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

INVESTORS have fallen victim to scams as the pandemic has left them with more screen time, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said, as he advised Filipinos to educate themselves to prevent losing their hard-earned money.

“Filipinos are now glued to the screen, which is why there has been an increase in investment scams. Besides, the current situation is difficult for Filipinos as a result of the pandemic,” SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said on Wednesday.

He said investor education is important in preventing investment scams amid the financial difficulties brought by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

He gave the advice during a virtual meeting of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines on Wednesday, adding that there is an existing problem in terms of investor education in the Philippines.

According to Mr. Aquino, the SEC’s enforcement and investor protection department has issued 127 advisories on unauthorized investment schemes for 2020, an increase of 95% from the 65 advisories it released in 2019.

“As far as our enforcement is concerned, our enforcement department in the SEC has delivered. Almost double the advisories compared to the previous year. I think there is a problem in terms of investor education,” he said.

Mr. Aquino said one way to educate Filipino investors is to hold information programs, adding that scammers would usually use social media sites such as YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook for their unauthorized investment schemes.

“We use the same social media platforms that scammers use when it comes to launching our investor education programs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Aquino said some of the investors are aware that they are entering unauthorized investment schemes, but do so as a result of the financial struggles caused by the pandemic.

“I would expect that some of the people getting into investment scams to be somehow aware that they are entering a scam. Not all of them, but quite a number do enter because of these difficult times,” he said.

“They are not exactly clueless of these scams. That’s how we see it. This is the reason why it is very important to be aggressive in investor education,” he added.

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