Personal Finance

Investing in networking scams – that one horror movie, far worse than saying “It’s Monday!”

The earlier scams were intriguing. Have you ever received a particularly lengthy email from the Prince of Nigeria asking you to become a conduit for an international bank transfer as he states his most unfortunate dilemma with his brothers, all of whom legitimate heirs to the throne, trying to raid the family’s riches upon the death of their father who regrettably left no will? *rolls eyes*

The con man can attack from anywhere and anytime. There’s only one way to outsmart scammers: be a learned and vigilant citizen.

Know the networking scams

What are the scams existing today? Well, there’s the most prominent multi-level marketing (MLM) or networking scams wherein the purpose is to recruit people for commission or there is a huge registration fee with a “guaranteed” return, or you are forced to buy goods to resell but are too pricey. There are also bogus people on the internet who will send you invites on Facebook or Tinder to gain your trust, but will later ask you for money as “utang” but will never pay it back. The world is unsafe, keep to your close friends and family when it comes to social media.

Reality check. Say, a friend of yours invested in networking scams though he doesn’t truly know the trouble he got himself into because the business was believable and promised “very high returns.” Now, he asks to recruit you and promise the same thing, that is to double your measly Php5000 in a month. The first and only thing you need to do is blatantly say, “thanks, but no thanks.” Never mind the “utang na loob” you have with said friend. You can repay it later.

Check for legitimacy

So you raised enough money and you’re ready to bank on an investment. Nice!

How do you know that the business is legit? You can check with the Department of Trade and Industries (DTI) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It is also important to know that just because a company or corporation is registered with the SEC, it does not necessarily mean they are licensed to operate. Registering with the SEC is a pre-requisite for a company to apply a business permit with the local government. You can check the Securities and Exchange Commission website to see if a company is legit or just one of those internet scams.

Know who you’re talking to by googling. You can get the business name, location, phone number and website (if available). These identifiers will help you decide on a whim if the business truly exists because scammers will give you fewer reasons to contact them or locate them for verification.

When in doubt, ask

When you’re lost on the road, what do you do? ASK – it’s always free.

Asking helps you get your way out of that road without circling it several times. Everything is online nowadays and you can start there. You can also join several investment groups on Facebook or check out the PinoyExchange Forum where real people can give you real insight on their experience, as well as tips and scam alert.

On Facebook, make sure to check their timeline for signs of mismanagement over the group. A credible group usually has rules in place for people who want to begin a topic or promote ads. Be aware that some scammers are paying people to go to, specifically to make good comments on certain products or investments. They may not be affiliated with the website.

Put it in writing

Investing involves big risks, especially if you don’t know anything about it. If you’ve finally decided to get the most bang for your buck, but are still unsure about whether to devote your money into it, then make sure everything is done in writing.

Email correspondence? Keep that email in your inbox. Exchange of ideas over a cup of coffee? Use pen and paper. Did you talk over the phone? Use your phone’s call recording capability. There are apps available online which records calls automatically, along with important details such as the time and date. Keep networking scams at bay with these tactics.

Want to know tips about networking scams? Follow the blog of GoBear Philippines, the only meta-search engine for financial products like travel insurance and credit cards.