In this story, I share how I encountered the Swissfranc Internet Scam 4 weeks before the story broke out, how I analyzed the investment and how we acted based on the information we had.
On June 5, an officemate and good friend of mine asked for my thoughts regarding a US dollar investment that was promising 4.5% returns daily. It was the Swissfranc Internet Ponzi Scam and it was looking for â€œinvestorsâ€ â€“ unwary victims, really.
From the very first looks at it, I was extremely skeptical. Thanks to the books that Iâ€™ve read the past many months, Iâ€™ve become more attuned to legitimate investments compared to scams.
(Some of the finance books I read: Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo by Francisco Colayco, 8 Secrets of the Truly Rich by Bo Sanchez, Think Rich Pinoy by Larry Gamboa, Millionaire Mind by T Harv Eker to name a few).
My first reaction to my friendâ€™s invitation was: Run away from this scam! But after examining the Swissfranc website, I realized that there were people behind this scam who were maliciously stealing other peopleâ€™s money.
Note that the people inviting us to invest are intelligent and honest people, gainfully employed in very good companies. These people were ill-informed and honestly thought they were investing in a legitimate business. It was the people who created the website and the scam who are guilty – robbers, they truly are. Â
Below, I publish the email exchanges I had with my officemate, Re-arranged in chronological order and with names changed for privacy of the people involved.
E-mail to my officemate Queenie, from a friend Jhoy from another company:
Sino nga ba sa inyo naghahanap ng investment?
Kung may 1K USD kayo, kesa matulog, invest nyo na
sa www.francswiss.us. 4.5% daily and in 23 days bawi.
Kung interested kayo, please tell me.
Thanks and best regards,
Jhoy L. Inasal
Manager, Innovator, AB BU QC STD
Queenieâ€™s email to me:
From: Queenie Santiago
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2007 8:30 AM
To: Soriano, Edwin
Subject: FW: Need Financial Advice pleaseee
Help namanâ€¦ I am interested on this one, but I am scared that it will be too riskyâ€¦ what do you think?
My first reply to Queenie:
From: Soriano, Edwin
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2007 9:12 AM
To: Queenie Santiago
Subject: RE: Need Financial Advice pleaseee
Basically: Too good to be true.
Ako, I would not entertain this investment at all. I would run away from it.
4.5% daily is around 135% in 30 days.
Itâ€™s either IMPOSSIBLE or based on a criminal activity ïŠ .
My second reply to Queenie was after doing some probing of the website indicated in the invitation email: www.francswiss.us . My notes are written in the image below in red font:
My message: â€œContact page does not contain any telephone number. I doubt if their postal office addresses are real. URL is francswiss.us, but email address is francswiss.com . francswiss.com does not contain any finance info. All it has are advertisements. Not good. Very bad. Run away from these websites!â€
Basically, I wanted to verify contact information. I didnâ€™t find any realistic contact info. If the website (and investment) was legitimate, it would not be â€œshyâ€ about publishing contact information, it would have endorsements from other financial groups/banks (and I would verify these endorsements too). etc.
Another thing I was verifying is â€œwhere does the wealth come from?â€ . I did not find any explanation on the website about where the wealth comes from. There was no investment portfolio. No business behind it. No track record. No nothing.
My third reply to my friend Queenie was verbal.
I asked her to get a contact name and number of the person selling the investment and ask for an appointment. I wanted to report the scam to the officials (back then, I was thinking Board of Investments).
It was good that we ran away from the investment and advised our friends to run away too.
But finding on the papers this week that the scam caused many innocent Filipinos to lose up to 1 billion pesos, I now wonder:
Had we reported to the authorities, could we have helped catch the scammers earlier and helped avert a financial disaster for the Filipinos who were fooled in the past three weeks?
What does it take for us Filipinos to be less suceptible to scams like these?
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