SEC warns public vs seven entities’ unlicensed investment schemes

THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued advisories against seven entities to warn the public about their unlicensed investment programs.

Ascend Intelligence Company, PHMALL.APP, and “A” Plus Investment, LLC exhibit Ponzi-like investment schemes, the commission said. Ponzi schemes are programs wherein the “monies from new investors are used in paying ‘fake profits’ to prior investors and is designed mainly to favor its top recruiters and prior risk-takers.”

The three entities are not registered with the SEC as a corporation or as a partnership and also lack the required license to solicit investments from the public.

“The offering and selling of securities in the form of investment contracts using the ‘Ponzi scheme,’ which is fraudulent and unsustainable, is not a registrable security,” the SEC said.

“The commission will not issue a license to sell securities to the public to persons or entities that are engaged in this business or scheme,” it added.

Ascend Intelligence, which also goes by Ascend Intelligent, AI Company, and, offers investment packages hinged on crypto-currency trading via its “AI Robot,” promising a 100% profit in 40 days, a direct referral bonus of as much as 20%, and a one percent indirect referral bonus.

Meanwhile, PHMall or PHMALL.APP offers six “VIP plans” where investors can allegedly earn from P320 up to P240,000 monthly, depending on the plan they get. Investors may also “earn” 10% from direct order rebates and five percent from direct order rebates, as well as “invitation rewards” from P100 to as much as P200,000, among its other programs.

“A” Plus Investment or A+, A-Plus, A-Plus Mall also offers three “VIP Level” packages, which range from P800 to P35,000. Investors may also earn via referral bonuses or through “invitation rewards.”

Meanwhile, the SEC also warned against a new investment program led by a certain Danea Ruby Cardones Solmayor.

The commission said Ms. Solmayor “lured [her] victims with great [returns] of investment evidenced by written investment contracts.” She owns a Department of Trade and Industry-registered business called Danea Clothing Wholesaling. However, Ms. Solmayor is not registered with the SEC, nor does she have the license to solicit investments from the public.

The regulator also flagged Infinite Profit Asia Ltd. for its investment program, which promises a daily income of as much as eight percent. It is allegedly involved in cryptocurrency trading. It is not registered with the SEC and it also lacks the license needed to collect investments from the public.

On the other hand, unregistered Digicoin Markets International PH offers investment plans ranging from P1,000 to up to P1 million. It promises a daily interest of five, six, or 7% for 30 days, on top of possible earning opportunities via referrals. It is also not licensed to conduct investment solicitations, the SEC said.

“Further, Digicoin Markets or Digicoin Markets International PH is also not a registered Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and does not have a corresponding Certificate of Authority as a Money Service Business as required under Circular No. 1108, Series of 2021, or the Guidelines for Virtual Asset Providers,” the SEC said.

The commission is also warning the public against MCM Royalty Legacy International, Inc.’s investment programs. While it is registered with the SEC, it doesn’t have a license to solicit investments.

MCM Royalty Legacy is said to be led by Mary Chiles Talamayan Mendoza and James Catimbag Sabenecio. Ms. Mendoza has been linked to other SEC-flagged entities such as Yeheey iTraffic System, Inc., Pays Up Online Marketing Business, and Pays-UpGen Marketing Business Unlimited.

The SEC said those involved in the unlicensed investment activities of entities may be prosecuted and held criminally liable and may also be subjected to a monetary fine of up to P5 million or a penalty of up to 21 years of imprisonment under the Securities Regulation Code.

As of October, the commission has issued 100 advisories against investment schemes offered by unregistered firms or entities without a secondary license from the SEC.

Last year, the SEC published over 120 warnings, more than double the 50 advisories issued in 2019. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte