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Decentra investment fraud is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

MANILA, Philippines — In an entrapment operation that culminated in the arrest of 19 people, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) busted another investment fraud promising fast and guaranteed returns from cryptocurrency.

The officers of Decentra were arrested in a joint operation on June 11 by the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department (EIPD) and the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) while soliciting investments from the public without the required license during a seminar or business presentation in a hotel in Quezon City.

After receiving an email tip about Decentra’s improper investment soliciting activities, the SEC approved and deputized a team of PNP-ACG employees, along with the EIPD, to conduct the combined entrapment operation through a mission order dated June 10.

Arnel Laxa, Michael Anderson, Arnold Black, Rodolfo A. Asadan, Roberto A Betinol, Fritzie Abalde, Nely Carvajal, Wyndell Espaol, Jenny A Tampulan, Alice Fabroa, Lawrence Ruiz, Kieth Reola, Mary Joy Mendoza, Joy Esclamado, Analiza Narvaez, Warpath Chu, Teodorick Acua, and Fe Pagling

On June 12, criminal charges against the Decentra officials were filed with the Department of Justice, two of whom were identified as foreign nationals.

Decentra was discovered to be providing multiple investing packages online, with a 99.95 Tether initial membership cost (USDT).

Tether is a stable cryptocurrency based on the Etherium and Bitcoin blockchains that were created with the goal of maintaining a $1 reserve for each tether issued.

Investors must also pay 34.95 USDT per month or 349.95 USDT per year to gain access to Decentra’s reward opportunities.

Depending on the package they choose and the number of recruits they welcome into the system, members can earn up to 120 percent of their initial investment.

On a US$50,000 investment, a member may allegedly make a profit of US$100,000, or PHP5 million each day.

Decentra was not registered with the EIPD as a company, partnership, or one-person corporation, according to advice dated June 13.

As a result, it lacked the supplementary license necessary by the SRC for the solicitation of investments.

Decentra was also found to be led by former members of Crowd1 Asia Pacific, Inc., whose certificate of incorporation was withdrawn by the SEC on Sept. 9, 2020, due to its improper solicitation of public investments.

“In light of this, the public is hereby advised to refrain from investing their hard-earned money in such high-yield, high-risk investment scheme, to exercise caution when dealing with individuals representing the above-named entity, and not to invest in or stop investing in the said entity,” the EIPD advised.

The commission is vigorously pursuing offenders of unapproved investment schemes and developing investor education programs to increase financial literacy in order to counteract the proliferation of investment scams in the country.

The SEC has already issued 55 warnings this year against organizations and people who have been detected soliciting investments from the general public without the required license from the commission.

In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued cease and desist orders against various companies, including RGS World Marketing and the Astrazion Group, for allegedly engaging in fraudulent investment schemes.

For violations of the SRC, 364 people are being actively prosecuted in 56 instances ongoing in several regional trial tribunals.

The SEC has obtained 18 convictions against 20 people, with a total sentence of 572 years in prison and a fine of PHP25 million.

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