Issue of February 14, 2021
     
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PLD echoes SEC call for public not to invest in Masa Mart
by Jessa Mardy P. Samidan / PIO

The Permits and Licensing Division (PLD) of the City Mayor’s Office has warned the public from investing in Masa Mart Business Center which has been posing as a multi-level marketing scheme.

Masa Mart was found to be offering a Subscription and Gains Program, under which a member may invest at least P1,250 to P500 million, in exchange of returns of P2,746 to about P11.65 billion, depending on the lock-in period. This entails an interest of up to 30 percent per month or up to 2,561.81 percent per year.

The PLD received an advisory from Securities and Exchange Commission-Baguio Extension Office Director Regina May Cajucom-de Guzman asking the city government to assist the agency in cautioning the public against the unauthorized investment scheme of Masa Mart.

“The Commission urges the public to avoid or stop engaging in the investment-taking activities of Masa Mart and its related entities or representatives, as they are yet to file the requisite registration statement or secure the approval of the corresponding permit to sell for such activities,” the advisory read.

According to the SEC, Masa Mart also offers a package called “The MMBC P5,888 Combo Package” where members could invest P5,888 for promised gains of P20,000 after six months and “Do-It-Yourself Subscription” of 24 months, “Roll Over Program” where members could generate an income of P100,000 to P12M after two years.

Other schemes of Masa Mart include the “United Masa Coin” (UMC) or the “XUM Coin,” which is purportedly a cryptocurrency promoted through a software-controlled application called UmcUSDTBot; and a referral program.

The SEC noted Masa Mart offers similar investment programs as TBCMMP Masa Mart Inc., which was issued with a warning advisory dated April 4 last year.

SEC records show that TBCMMP and Masa Mart share the same president, Jessie R. Royo.

The commission said while Masa Mart is registered with SEC as one-person corporation under the Revised Corporation Code and with the Department of Trade and Industry, “such registrations only grant the company juridical personality and does not authorize it to issue, sell or offer for sale securities to the public no engage in business activities requiring a secondary license from the SEC.”

Masa Mart does not appear among registered banks, exchanges or companies engaged in digital assets with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

“Neither the UMC nor XUM are also included among the list of generally accepted virtual currencies posted on the World Coin Index and Coin Market Cap websites,” the SEC added.

Under the Securities Regulation Code, those who act as salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents of fraudulent investment schemes may be held criminally liable and penalized with a maximum fine of P5 million or imprisonment of 21 years or both.

Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act further penalizes those participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts with two-month imprisonment or a maximum fine of P1M or both.

Reports of unauthorized investment solicitation activities may be emailed to the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department at epd@sec.gov.ph.


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