• Reforms vs investment scams sought

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    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and an asset management firm are batting for institutional reforms and financial literacy programs that, they said, are crucial in addressing the increasing cases of investment scams in the Philippines.

    Lalaine Monserate, assistant director for Enforcement and Investor Protection Department of the SEC, said these investment scams have victimized about 250,000 Filipinos to date.

    These victims, she said, have lost about P12 billion to P25 billion in these investment scams.

    To address this, Monserate suggested that certain changes in the government processes, particularly in the SEC, are needed.

    For instance, she noted, being strict in the early stages of getting a business permit would help a lot in preventing these scammers from operating.

    Another way is to have an anti-cyber crime unit in the SEC to stop the scammers from using the web as to attract investors.

    “The SEC has no division or office dedicated to cyber crime,” Monserate noted. “We don’t have any office dedicated to that. That is why we still have to coordinate with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police’s anti cyber crime division.”

    But coordinating with law enforcement agencies is hard, she complained, as the police authorities do not usually prioritize SEC complaints.

    “I suggest there should be a division in the SEC dedicated to cyber crime,” Monserati said.
    In the same manner, fund manager Sun Life Asset Management Co. Inc. (Slamci) said it is taking a stand against investment scams by launching a multi-media campaign dubbed “Slam the Scam.”

    The firm noted a proliferation of the racket, where investors are lured into pouring in a significant amount of money for the promise of huge, quick returns. The clue-less investors, however, end up penniless.

    “Financial literacy has always been Sun Life’s advocacy,” Slamci President Valerie Pama said on Wednesday. “As mutual funds manager, we are taking on the task of raising awareness about investment scams.”

    Pama said “Slam the Scam” would share tips on what to consider when choosing an investment company, as well as red flags on dubious organizations.

    The campaign, to be coursed through media, would be demonstrated in practical situations, so people could easily relate to it, Pama said.

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