SEC flags investment scheme operated by Bitcoin Digital

THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning the public against an unregulated investment operator that claims to be endorsed by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and local celebrities.

In an advisory on its website, the SEC said a group named Bitcoin Digital, which runs its own website, does not have a regulatory license to sell securities and solicit investments to the public.

“[B]ased on our records, Bitcoin Digital 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,” it said.

“Moreover, Bitcoin Digital is likewise not included among the registered banks, exchanges or companies engaged in digital assets with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,” it added.

The SEC advisory showed screenshots of Bitcoin Digital’s promotional materials, which featured “fabricated” endorsements from Mr. Dominguez along with the faces of President Rodrigo R. Duterte and celebrity Vic Sotto.

The corporate regulator likened the group’s tactics to Bitcoin Revolution and Immediate Edge, which the SEC had previously warned the public against engaging with.

“[T]he public is advised not to invest or stop investing in any scheme offered by Bitcoin Digital that promises ridiculous rates of return with little or no risk,” the SEC said.

The group claims to provide a passive money-making opportunity through cryptocurrency investing. With a minimum investment of €250 (about P14,100), an investor may earn about €500 to €2,000 (about P28,200 to P112,800) daily.

The SEC said this shows signs of a Ponzi scheme, where money collected from new investors are used to pay fake profits to earlier investors.

The regulator warned that salesmen, brokers, dealers, and agents of Bitcoin Digital and other operators of unauthorized investment schemes may be penalized with up to a P5-million fine, up to 21 years of imprisonment, or both. — Denise A. Valdez

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