30 Jul2007

My earlier post on “Rich (Gullible, Careless, Stupid?) Pinoys Lose Millions in new financial scandal (PIPC Scam)…” got a LOT of attention from readers. A lot. Not only did regular Marketmanila readers read that post, but many new readers were directed to it as soon as Google rated it high on the search list for PIPC SCAM. I also got a lot of new commenters on that post, the newest of whom, called himself/herself “Inquirer” and gave a false or non-functioning email address as “tiny_tim@yahoo.com.” Now I normally just DELETE comments which are a tad histrionic in nature, if they come from a first time visitor to the site, a first time commenter who obviously hasn’t followed the blog for some time AND, finally, someone who gives a false return email address. However, I occasionally relish the controversy raised in some of these comments and let them stay, only to respond to them, Marketmanila style. How can I resist this urge to clarify an issue raised by the erstwhile assistant of Mr. Scrooge, the anonymous Tiny Tim? Is Inquirer/Tiny Tim the Fishpan Lady of the moment? Only long-time readers will understand that jibe, and I say it lightly, as usual… At any rate, I had planned a follow-up post to the first PIPC post regardless, so here it is. And if you go back and read the initial post for the first time, make sure to read my follow-on comments (there are several lengthy comments, longer than the post itself) so you get a fuller flavor of the discussion at hand…

When you boil it down to the essence of the issue, even without the specific FACTS of the case, the whole thing would be made clearer if clear YES or NO answers were to be had for the following key questions:

1. Was the company legally registered to conduct the business it was engaged in??? At the moment, the answer seems to be NO. They did not seem to have the proper SEC registration and were not authorized to take investor funds. That according to quotes of the SEC personnel, a check of their corporate name against registered companies on the SEC website, and a check of the list of companies authorized to accept funds.

2. Was the company, with billions in funds under management, subject to the scrutiny of reputable and reliable auditors who did reasonable checks to ensure that they were doing what they said they were doing? Answer, I don’t know. But investors and company officials can answer that and should answer that in a flash, to allay the worst fears of their investors. Who were their auditors and where are the audited statements of account? And why aren’t these submitted to the SEC for file, or if they are, are they now publicly available? In fact, these could have been distributed the day after the dude guy allegedly absconded with the funds…

3. Were the proper taxes withheld on the gains from these supposed trading gains or investments? Were the appropriate government forms, taxes, remittances done and do each of the investors have proof that they paid taxes on the investment gains? Answer, I don’t know. But again, investors and company officials can answer this question in a flash. With so much money being made, they should have been paying hundreds of millions of pesos in withholding taxes per annum and the local BIR offices, company cancelled cheques to the BIR, records by investor, etc. should clarify this issue. Oh, and good audited statements would also point to this matter accurately.

4. Were there appropriate financial controls in place? Were there multiple signatories for large transfers or expenses? Blah, blah, blah…

So basically, if the questions above were all answered positively, in other words, they were a legitimate company, legally allowed to take investor money, were being audited by reputable auditors, and annually given clean bills of health, and paid huge sums of taxes to the Philippine government on huge gains made on investments, AND had reasonable financial controls in place, then the only major focus left for “investigators” would be the dude man who apparently disappeared with lots of company money…

So for all of you out there (particularly the people who lost money or work for PIPC) taking your anger out on Marketman because of my earlier post, use it positively and get answers to the four questions above. They are all things that can and should be confirmed. And if the answer to one or more of the above questions is a resounding NO (as I guess it is), then the issue may appear to be more closely associated with a SCAM. If I were one of the remaining managers of the company or one of its senior employees, I would simply gather the data/documents/proof to answer the four questions up above positively and make that plainly public…then a lot of heat, conjecture, ill will, second-guessing, ire and rumor would be put to a STOP AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Now, what is a SCAM, exactly? If you google a definition or refer to an Oxford dictionary, the following definitions are listed:

1. A ploy by a shyster (odd how this word is traditionally used to mean a lawyer in particular) to raise money.
2. A fraudulent business scheme
3. A Confidence Game (Con Game, also referred to as a SCAM)
4. To victimize: to deprieve by deceit.

And in case you are curious, according to the Oxford Dictionary:

Fraud – “criminal deception, a dishonest trick”
Fraudulent – “acting with fraud”
Swindle – “to cheat in a business transaction obtained by fraud”
gyp – “to cheat, swindle, defraud”
defraud – “to deprive by fraud”

So to me at least, it seems that the key word is FRAUD in almost all of the definitions of a SCAM. And since fraud suggest criminal behavior, criminal means someone guilty of a crime, a crime means a serious offense and one punishable by law… then a negative answer to the first question above of whether or not the company was duly registered to engage in the business it was pursuing, whether is was legally allowed to receive investor funds, whether it paid the taxes on gains made, etc. all point to some type of fraud… does that make sense? I know I have a lot of lawyer readers out there…help me out if you think my logic is poor…I would appreciate your input…

Now I realize there are just so many unknowns about this case that make it difficult to judge anything. But for me, if remaining company officials can tell their customers and employees the honest and actual answers to the four questions up top, that would be a huge step to really unraveling and bringing closure to this mess.

As for the latest information I have received in casual conversation and third-hand about PIPC, a banker based out of Singapore for one of the world’s top 3 banks said that:

1. PIPC was already on their “watchlist” for many months, and transfers of funds to PIPC’s accounts were already blacklisted from a while back…
2. It seems the person over at that other international bank that helped open the PIPC related deposit or transaction accounts has also allegedly disappeared as well…

As for Tiny Tim and your comment at the end of my first PIPC post, here are some direct answers to things you raised:

1. If there is nothing to hide, then current PIPC management should answer all questions posed by investors to them…that will help alleviate the tension and speculation. If there is nothing to hide, then the 4 questions up above would already have been clearly answered in the affirmative, in my personal opinion. A public press conference by any remaining management confirming the four questions would dampen speculation in a flash, so why haven’t they done that for the benefit of their customers?
2. If you have done the research yourself or because you work for the company you have proof that the company is legitimately registered, legitimately allowed to accept investor money, legitimately provided accurate and legal documentation for the funds, has legitimate and reliabe financial statements, have paid the legitimate taxes on investor gains, and had appropriate financial controls in place, and they STILL got nailed, then YOU owe it to the investors who are out the money to divulge this information, as full transparent disclosure is the first step on the road to clarity…
3. If and when Ferrier Hodson does solve the case of the disappearing dude and the $250MM he allegedly took with him, we will all be thankful and thrilled this sordid mess has come to an end.

Again, I strongly reiterate that I feel very badly for anyone who lost funds in the PIPC brouhaha, and I do personally know some of them, and I do hope that they retrieve some if not all of their money over time, but I also hope that other readers have learned something from this series of posts, and that they should be VIGILANT with their money so that they don’t have similar problems in the future!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Malou See says:

    Whem Marketman starts to speak….he speaks deep from his heart. I have read about the PIPC scam in the newspaper but it didnt catch my attention until I read it here. Maybe bec I dont have that much money to invest it myself…he he he but kidding aside, I agree with you, marketman, nowadays, hard earned money should be placed invested in a reliable investment. Thanks for a great insight.

    *THUMBS UP*

    Jul 30, 2007 | 3:39 pm

     
  2. bluegirl says:

    Marketman, when are you going to hold your seminar on financial management? I want to sign up!

    I was a young 12-13 yr old when my parents asked me to take out my savings for them to invest in a “sure-ball” stock. Needless to say, I never saw my few thousands anymore. That was a painful lesson. But at least I learned it at a very young age and it spared me of more expensive lessons.

    Since then I have stayed on very conservative course (just plain old TCD and putting my money in US Dollars). I know I should invest elsewhere but then there are so many schemes, scams, and whatevers. It is so hard to trust anyone these days.

    On the other hand, for legitimate entities, there are so many SUPERFINE prints that need to be read and understood. I know of an old lady who lost a good chunk of her lifetime savings to a legitimate financial company because she did not read all the fine print. She thought she was investing in one thing and apparently the papers included other options she was not signing up for.

    Bottom line is, the financial world has become a jungle. Studying the options is almost like going to school all over again. And while hard-working people would like to invest, how do we go about finding options that would suit us? If we start on it, how much time should we expect to devote to it to do a reasonably good job at it. After all, if we can’t give the time, then it might be better not to go into it.

    Anticipating your words of wisdom & experience….

    Jul 30, 2007 | 3:54 pm

     
  3. Tinsi says:

    To bluegirl , yes it is overwhelming, the amount of knowledge that one has to imbibe to be a more savvy investor, but for starters you may either 1) maybe hire a financial planner ( a registered one please ie RFP, CFA etc.) ,2) put your money in a mutual fund (you still need to know your risk appetite though) Disclosure, I AM NOT a financial planner by profession nor am I connected with a mutual fund company.

    MM writes passionately about two things …. food and financial literacy.

    On the other forums that I lurk in (like pinoymoneytalk) I was able to follow the saga of Francswiss (immediately followed by PIPC) PRIOR to the actual meltdown. How? Because there would be members who would post their questions on the forum. Of course the “learned” ones would throw out words of caution which would run contrary to the others who were already “investors” . Obviously this lead to A LOT of heated arguments but in the end we all know who got the last laugh.

    Jul 30, 2007 | 4:56 pm

     
  4. kc says:

    thank you so much for posting this. i learned so much from your comments in the previous blog. if you ever do decide to give a financial seminar, count me in.

    Jul 30, 2007 | 5:47 pm

     
  5. Jr says:

    MM,

    I come from a family of conservative or middle of the road investors when it comes to investing money. Diversification of investments is better than putting everything one basket. I’m happy and satisfied if our investments make 5% to 10% per annum. Others say that I should place my investment in high risk investments and earn at least 15% or more.

    I had know some people through the years who invest based on the word of mouth without doing the necessary background check or due diligence. I had seen people invest because it is an IPO that just started without checking what they actually do. I had seen another persons’ hard earned money disappear in matter of hours when the high tech stocks went down in the late 1990s’ when it turns out they didn’t do anything at all. I knew a person who only pays the interest only in his home mortgage instead of the traditional mortgage loan.

    I like to be better informed by researching the company history, their debt ratio and company management. I like to invest on the companies that the products that I use. Products that I understand based on my layman’s term. If it sounds too good there must be catch.

    Thanks again for the wealth of information that you mentioned in your blog.

    Jr.

    Jul 30, 2007 | 10:20 pm

     
  6. Harry says:

    I know some people on both sides of this unfortunate mess. It seems the victims are trying to identify and garnish the assets of the GM of PIPC, which according to reports include a couple of houses in Dasma, a beach house in Punta Fuego and probably some properties abroad. “Inquirer” most likely has a direct stake in this controversy, and commenting on this blog looks like a pathetic attempt to justify their malfeasance. The GM seems to be trying to distance herself, and her assets, from the controversy by claiming some sort of legal innocence over what happened. PIPC officials should go direct to the media and explain themselves, and let the people determine their culpability. It’s stupid to use this blog, anonymously at that, to try to do their PR work.

    Jul 30, 2007 | 10:27 pm

     
  7. Maria Clara says:

    My heart goes to the victims of archaic far-flung scam baggers. One easy falls a victim in this scam with the promise of high yield interest with their seed money undermining the inherent risk factor of losing their money. Investors just looked the peripheral aspect of investment — high yield interest earnings and totally overlooked the how and why concept of investing. It is hard to recover lost money from this kind of investment. First and foremost, there was no duress in entering a transaction with the scam baggers. It was all the investors’ own free will just bear in mind their money will grow like a tree! It was all hearsay from friends and acquaintances in the community that they yielded a high return of interest from their investment and the rest will follow the trend. They will come to their door with their seed money and looking forward to days when to collect their yield interest money with all the legitimate idea they are high-powered investment houses with strong connection with so and so. Little do the investors know that is the last glimpse of their money. The scam baggers are located in the prime area of the business district. Nobody will trust their hard earned money if they are located in the filthy side of town. I feel so sorry especially investors who entrusted their retirement packages. There is no recovery process if there is it will be one cent to a peso!!! Thanks for revisiting this issue again. I hope it will open the eyes of would be investors and be more convervative in their choice of investments.

    Jul 31, 2007 | 4:19 am

     
  8. Ted says:

    This is a true story, my wife has an Aunt that lost all her retirement savings from teaching(P1.5M) to Multi-tel a few years ago. She firt invested P200K and was getting outrageous returns every month which prompted her to invest all of her money. Now it’s dejavu once again. When will we ever learn not to be “greedy”. Same M.0. different packaging.

    Jul 31, 2007 | 5:01 am

     
  9. MegaMom says:

    Unfortunately, I’ve no ounce of pity for “victims” of these scams. Problem is people get too greedy and take uninformed risks. Always better to invest via reputable institutions, but with the caveat that all investments involve some amount of risk and there are never any guarantees. Big time investors know this and do not wince at losing P1M on an investment if another is making P10M for them. In the LONG run, we just hope that things even out. It’s the middle class who suffer the consequences of their own greed and ignorance because of their desire to make a quick buck.
    MM, I’m sure you already know that you have quite a bit of clout in shaping public opinion, not just on what to put on the dinner table tonight. The altruist in me says you ought to use it for some greater good! I like the suggestion of an investing course for the middle class – something I’ve also been trying to get into mainstream in my own little “fiefdom”.

    Jul 31, 2007 | 9:09 am

     
  10. Mel says:

    I am curious of the victims profile. This kind of scam thrives on a lack of financial understanding. Who should be targeted for scam guides?

    Jul 31, 2007 | 9:41 am

     
  11. CecileJ says:

    Aridelros, well said. What may look like greed to some could really be optimism (and maybe naivete) to others. In this case, there really is no “black and white” on what motivated people to join. (Pero yung perpetrators, WRONG talaga sila!)

    I hope we all just LEARN from this incident (and from MM’s and our “classmates'” comments) and keep mum on blaming and “I told you so”. Pag-ingatan natin ang pera natin and let’s all be the wiser from this.

    Jul 31, 2007 | 9:54 am

     
  12. izzy says:

    Good day MarketMan! I am an avid reader of your blog. It is my first time to leave a comment though. I am a graduating law student and was tasked last week to read the Philippine landmark case on Ponzi schemes. Let me share with you a few lines from People vs. Balasa, penned by Justice Romero in 1998.

    “Greed has always been one of man’s failings. The hope of greater gain has lured many a man to throw caution, and his common sense, to the wind. This human foible, known to many, has been exploited throughout the ages by con men, charlatans and cheats to bilk the gullible public of their hard earned money. History has thus seen the unraveling of various disingenuous stratagems which are at bottom nothing but seams. The case at hand once again proves that “a sucker is born every minute…. Hindi masasabing mga hangal o dili kaya’y mga maralita na walang gaasnong pinag-aralan ang mga nabibiktima…”

    I feel no pity for those who invested in such scams. They all knew too well what they were getting into. I was even told by a friend about 2 months ago how amazing this “investment opportunity” was which was giving him a return of $200 a day. I said, life can’t be that easy. He said that that’s what he said at first until he joined. Then the whole Francswiss thing erupted. I realized that that must be what my friend told me about!

    Well, after years of such scams, I only pray that people will start to learn.

    Jul 31, 2007 | 10:01 am

     
  13. maria says:

    i really feel for the people who were scammed. maaaaan. hard-earned money is very difficult to part with. i’d rather save up and buy land. i have this thing with land…it really packs that sentimental punch.

    your blog’s getting more exciting!!! write on!!!

    Jul 31, 2007 | 1:52 pm

     
  14. jim says:

    Be happy with what you have. Dont be envious of other people success and wealth so you wont fall for quick rich scam.

    Jul 31, 2007 | 2:17 pm

     
  15. nang says:

    hello MM! you don’t need a lawyer to confirm that your logic is correct. checking out the company’s sec registration is just so basic if you’re considering handing over your life savings to an investments firm. that simple step could have spared a lot of people the agony that they are now experiencing. alas, the prospect of raking it in wins over ordinary diligence and plain logic!

    Jul 31, 2007 | 3:03 pm

     
  16. inquirer says:

    I guess you have been waiting for my response. Everyone this is from MarketManila: “I do have other information from second hand sources which I will post soon.” I’m glad you have admitted that all your sources have been from second hand information.

    ” I also got a lot of new commenters on that post, the newest of whom, called himself/herself “Inquirer” and gave a false or non-functioning email address as “tiny_tim@yahoo.com.”

    Since you don’t like people being anonymous, why don’t you advertise your full name, home address, land line, cell number, place of work, job occupation, bio, etc. Now we can take this personal or we can do this as a professional productive discussion.

    I will stand my ground with my statements of, your sources are second hand information. You don’t even know the logistics behind the whole matter. You want to feed of controversy and add salt to peoples’ wounds. I don’t need to aplogize PUBLICLY because I have direct source of info.

    You, who goes by the name of Market Manila with no bio, no email address, no home address, no cell phone, no landline, but quick to judge someone who wants to be anonymous, use big words to try to jump the banwagon of controversies.

    You keep doing what you are doing because it helps you sleep better at night. I am through with your despicable comments in which no coorelation to the truth. I really hope you eat your words. You keep talking about the SEC which you have no idea about. Clueless!!!!!!!

    Everyone don’t take advice from this guy. He is what you call a “gossip columnist” who bases is facts from media and hearsey.

    Jul 31, 2007 | 9:12 pm

     
  17. Marketman says:

    Inquirer… I usually ask that readers leave an email address to ensure that they post reasonable comments and that they have a way of being contacted. All other commenters seem to find this procedure reasonable. And you had a way to contact me through private email if you had bothered to check, rather than posting in the comments section for everyone to see to begin with. I have met over 250 of my readers in the flesh at MM eyeballs, events, classes, awards ceremonies, etc. and many more know who I am, so despite remaining relatively anonymous to the 10,000 readers at large, I AM KNOWN to many and I would stand by my comments as I laid them out in the two posts… It is you that must build some credibility as the regular readers of this blog know when or how to think, and can take my posts as they see fit, or ignore them if they want to… Besides, it is MY blog, if you have a different set of opinions and are inclined to do so, why not start your own blog… or I notice there is already one or two for those who have been hit by the apparent losses…

    But no, this doesn’t change the 4 key questions I have posed in the posts and by the way, I HAVE NEVER CLAIMED TO HAVE FIRST HAND INFORMATION… It is unfortunate that you have so much bile in your comments when NO ONE has thus far been able to adequately and publicly answer the four key questions posed… Doing so would make matters so much less potentially controversial. I am not making up stories or starting rumors, I am posing logical questions, and actually I hope many of the investors who are now out money DO SPECIFICALLY ASK THOSE QUESTIONS WHEN THEY ARE ABLE TO DO SO FROM THE RIGHT PEOPLE AT THE COMPANY… But try to put this all in perspective, I didn’t make an investment in PIPC, and I didn’t abscond with any money… so why don’t you direct your ire at the more appropriate parties??? I hope if you did lose money or know people who did, that you are all able to recover it. And actually, at this point, I do hope there is a fairy tale ending to this story as it sure is getting a bit bizarre…

    I hope that the TRUTH does come out, and if the TRUTH is that this was:

    a. a properly registered company allowed to conduct business as it did,
    b. it had good auditors that gave it annual clean bills of health,
    c. it paid the proper taxes, and
    d. the firm had proper controls in place,

    then the only major thing to search for is indeed the missing dude man who left with a whole lot of funds (according to the newspapers). Only time shall really be able to tell who is clueless or not…

    If you are so PRIVY to the TRUTH from the source, as you seem to be claiming, then why not share YOUR knowledge with the proper authorities to make the task of sorting out this mess easier? If the TRUTH is known, then everyone can see what indeed occured rather than simply asking logical questions… With thousands (according to the newspapers) of supposed investors out there, they should be looking for you to divulge the TRUTH as you claim to know it…

    Jul 31, 2007 | 10:12 pm

     
  18. inquirer says:

    Sorry to tell you but I am an investor. Why should I tell people publicly about my business? Do you air out all your laundry? Why don’t you write about your personal life here and have people redicule you and make speculations? Do you have financial problems like all of us? Are you a client? So what right do you have to judge me about this matter?

    I still don’t see your phone number, address, cell phone, and land line advertise as you so insult me for being anonymous.

    Why is there a need to answer your 4 questions?? Will you sleep better at night? What actions can you help with this matter? Can you bring me back my money? What good is it of suing when the money is not here to be sued?

    You simply need to get your facts straight and stay away from peoples’ business?? Unless you are an investor, you have no right to judge me or anyone for that matter!!! Truth is within the investors not the public. Keep reading the news because that is all what you will get out of it.

    Aug 1, 2007 | 1:31 am

     
  19. sam says:

    Inquirer, allow me my two cents’ worth, or let’s make it a dime to account for inflation. Let’s put it this way, browsing on this site is a bit like coming to MM’s virtual table.
    A sensitive and self-respecting guest at the table knows there are a million creative ways to leave, when the seat feels hot more than warm on the tush. I understand and feel sorry for your loss, but to make your experience worth all the pain, it may be wise of you to really ponder those four questions. It may bring you some clarity. There you go….Life is harsh, but there is always dessert somewhere. live.

    Aug 1, 2007 | 2:23 am

     
  20. Ted says:

    INQUIRER, like you hundreds of people lost their shirt, but according the the news only 31 have the right mind to show up and complain that they have been bilked. Why don’t you join them and complain as well and stop listening to your first hand sources. We are here to discusss what happened and what information we can gather to inform other readers of this blog what to look for next time they come across this kind of schemes. Why don’t you tell your story how you got bilked instead of bad mouthing this blog. I’m sorry if you got victimized but don’t take it out on this blog, cause it is coming out as a sweetlemon reaction.

    Aug 1, 2007 | 2:35 am

     
  21. inquirer says:

    ok I will leave now everyone. For those who are not against me, read up on a better blog where the discussion are mainly from investors. The discussion from the website below are all perspectives from different angles and view points unlike here who discusses only one side.

    http://www.pinoymoneytalk.com/forum/index.php?topic=5936.150

    Aug 1, 2007 | 5:42 am

     
  22. Marketman says:

    Sam, THANK YOU, I couldn’t have said it better… Ted, thanks as well, and yes, I hope hundreds of formal complainants come out of this fiasco, because if they stay in the shadows instead, little progress will be made… And Inquirer, thank you for leaving. I do hope you get your money back somehow and no, I was never against “you,” just simply discussing an obviously rather heated topic to begin with…

    Aug 1, 2007 | 6:09 am

     
  23. CecileJ says:

    Inquirer, we would’ve valued your inputs as an investor and a source of first hand info, just as we valued MM’s tips and advice. We are sad that you chose to vent your ire instead.

    This is a peaceful blog community and we value each other’s opinions and take counsel from each other’s advice. Let us keep it that way.

    MM, let me just say that the only thing anonymous about you, at least to me, is your real name. Your thoughts, hopes, kindnesses and convictions are quite clear to us regular readers of your blog. One can give his real name and yet still not show his real persona.

    Aug 1, 2007 | 8:53 am

     
  24. inquirer says:

    Comment deleted.

    Aug 1, 2007 | 11:37 am

     
  25. Sam says:

    inquirer: dude, i was nice to you earlier, but come on, print this page, go to a corner and read your comments again. and again. and again, until your head spins. it is ok to grieve a loss, but dragging us all as you wallow in your self-dug hole is an entirely different issue. it’s fair to say that most readers of this blog READ, but printed stuff that matters. don’t worry, i know where to get my news. i am here for other things. the fabulous stuff – food, good vibes, philippine life, things that keep me smiling everyday. if you notice, this site does not link to cnn or bloomberg or fox or tribune or inquirer. getting it yet? i know bitter. i’ve had salt in my wounds. you are not alone. life sucks when it hits you, on the groin or on the pocket. i do not hate you, i dislike the way you deal with your loss. but i understand. now go, don’t hesitate to check in and come back for future posts on those wonderful regional cuisine, great tools and exotic places. spare us all,response not required. coffee is served.

    n.b. the MM has moved on to mushroom risotto, so let’s go there. ;)

    Aug 1, 2007 | 12:16 pm

     
  26. lee says:

    To Inquirer: there are other posts in this blog that might help make the world a better place to live in. Binagoongang Bagnet is known to alleviate pain and misery.

    Aug 1, 2007 | 12:57 pm

     
  27. MegaMom says:

    Wow, Inquirer sure has plenty of bitterness within! I hope he gets over it, after all it’s just money. Imagine what it would be like to lose other more important “things” like people or love or self-respect! Been there, done that, but I’ve moved on… And now I heed the call of chanterelle mushroom risotto, life is good! Thanks MM for making it better. :)

    Aug 1, 2007 | 1:25 pm

     
  28. Katrina says:

    Inquirer, do you have a fishpan? BWAHAHAHAHA!!! Sorry, couldn’t resist… ;-)

    In order to see the other sides to this, I did go to the Pinoy Money Talk forum, as Polypoo and Inquirer suggested. I read the whole thing, and I’m sorry to tell you that NONE of MM’s questions was answered there. All you’ll read is about investors who thought it was a legit investment (I really don’t think they were being greedy or even lazy; many are experienced investors.) only to learn that the top guy disappeared with their money. They had all been guaranteed that their principal was safe and PIPC could not withdraw their money. So how it all happened is still a mystery.

    Aug 1, 2007 | 1:56 pm

     
  29. millet says:

    when we talk of victims of financial scams, i always say the genuine victims to date are those who invested their hard-earned money in educational plans for their kids, only to learn (they were not even officially informed) when the time came that the pre-need firms could not pay up. the greater insult is that the principals of these firms still manage to go around in luxury cars and helicopters, while many of the planholders’ children have had to stop schooling. this was not a “get-rich-quick” scheme, this was investment for the children’s future.

    Aug 1, 2007 | 3:59 pm

     
  30. Marketman says:

    Millet, arrgh, don’t get me started on education plans, I am even more passionate about those disasters than credit cards or pyramid schemes! For years before CAP collapsed I strongly encouraged people not to invest in those plans and do something else, and when it collapsed, I knew LOTS of folks who got burned big time. For at least 5 years I told anyone who asked me they were doomed but they all just looked at me like I was crazy… well, who is out the money now? The main issue there was this, it was a major assumption that tuition rates would continue to be mandated by government regulations…so education plans could plan for decades ahead. When the government removed caps on tuition increases, the actuarial estimates went out the door and suddenly there wasn’t enough funds to pay the tuition. It didn’t help that the investments the edu companies put their money in simultaneously TANKED with the Asian crisis… so the losers were the investors. That really upsets me no end as education is something very important to me, and you are right, people weren’t at all thinking they were getting into anything risky at all!

    Aug 1, 2007 | 6:00 pm

     
  31. filet minion says:

    by golly mr. inquirer you are a strange fellow.

    fyi, marketman does exist. if he remains anonymous, it’s only because he’s not some egomaniac who needs to garner credit for his blog well-received and enjoyed by thousands. i’ve met him on several occasions. sadly though, he does not carry a bayong in lieu of an attache case as i had then imagined. neither does he look like an old bearded preggy santa claus as i had then hoped him to be. but he is just as kind and good-natured as santa (especially during xmas, generously baking for orphanages) and he is just as jolly (except when he rants like hell hath no fury like a marketman scorned).

    mr. inquirer, maybe you should try taking up yoga. it may not solve your current financial woos but at least it might relieve your stress for the meantime (disclaimer: i don’t do yoga, i’m just naturally jolly. so this advice is second-hand info from Madonna who swears by yoga).

    i understand you’re just someone to be pitied, not simply because you lost millions, but more because you’re consumed by angst.

    ps
    if you still get all riled up from innocuous remarks made by a misspelled piece of meat wrapped in bacon, then you seriously ought to consult your doctor.

    Aug 2, 2007 | 11:03 am

     
  32. passive says:

    whoa, so many things have transpired since my last view!

    hi MM. I’m a regular lurker but since i’ve transferred employer I do not have the privilege of a dsl connection anymore. sad but true, at this time, there are still companies out there who don’t provide iternet access to their employees ..arrgh. i miss your blog and all the pictures. now i feel so left out in the world. sob..

    Aug 2, 2007 | 11:37 am

     
  33. Katrina says:

    Filet minion, you are TOO FUNNY!!! :-D Levity is just what this page needed, so thanks for providing it.

    Aug 2, 2007 | 3:24 pm

     
  34. remonio says:

    MM, although you have valid points, all this is Monday morning quarterbacking. Hindsight is 20-20.

    Aug 3, 2007 | 1:59 am

     
  35. Marketman says:

    remonio, yup, but the foresight came in telling several folks asking about these kinds of deals several years and months ago to stay away from investing in dubious schemes, they are the happiest camper friends I have at the moment; nearly burned, financially more learned… The same holds true for CAP; not hindsight, pointed that one out and was warning folks about it for 5 years before it went into serious trouble… If you visit some of the discussion threads on PIPC, there were MANY who were sceptical and warned against investing in it months before it blew up…

    Aug 3, 2007 | 6:16 am

     
  36. Marketman says:

    The latest “news” is that the PIPC Manila office/GM is claiming it only provided tech or computer assistance to the BVI (British Virgin Islands)Company… so if you got burned on this PIPC thing, the next key question is: “How could the sales agents of a tech and research company be soliciting investments from Filipinos for placement in a BVI company… and if these sales agents were describing the terms of the investment and how it worked, were they technically authorized to do so as employees or agents of a tech or research company?” Ah, the legal machinations shall begin… So, it seems, according to the newspapers at least, the current only answer to my key question #1 above is something along these lines “we aren’t an investment company, we didn’t encourage you to invest, we didn’t take your money…you did all of that either knowingly or unwittingly with a BVI based company, and oh, just ignore that it was us encouraging you to put your money with that company… or something.” Gosh, if they were doing TECH advice, why did they have so many “agents” scouring Manila for potential clients???

    Aug 3, 2007 | 8:10 am

     
  37. Miles says:

    goodness me!!
    i have been so engrossed in work that i have not been reading the news. this is another black mark in our economics. i do agree that the preneed companies acutally hurt more people since what they invested their hard earned money in was for their children’s future. frank herbert was right,(i am just paraphrasing here) “the only science that we have perfected in to an art is the science of discontent.”
    oh, and that inquirer guy is so bitter that he can’t even express himself properly

    Aug 4, 2007 | 11:06 pm

     
  38. aguho says:

    Substitute FOREX with real estate,or prepaid legal,or Amway, or mortgage fraud, the list of Ponzi schemes goes on and on.Unfortunately, this is the path that many over encumbered Filipinos here in Southern California have chosen as their plan for ” retirement”. Ooops forgot the mother of all schemes that SoCal pinoys fall prey to…. the casinos,card rooms, and lottos.

    Repeat after me ” Get rich quick schemes do not work”

    I would suggest that many Filipinos here in So Cal will never be able to retire, and will work until they drop dead… Watch as the coming housing/credit bubble crushes thousands of kababayans here in California.

    Here is a simple piece of advice to live by…. If you cannot afford something DON’T buy it…

    aguho

    Aug 5, 2007 | 2:24 am

     
  39. nicole says:

    Marketman: good insights. there is a money trail…. check that

    Aug 7, 2007 | 9:44 am

     
  40. Marketman says:

    Nicole, you are right, and in todays anti-money laundering environment, the trail should be a good one. What concerns me now is the position that the local managers are taking, at least as reported in the press only, that they actually had nothing to do with the investments, they were only an IT firm… hmmmm, sounds like legal maneouvering is now taking over to ensure protecting behinds…

    Aug 7, 2007 | 9:56 am

     
  41. liza m.c. says:

    “inquirer” is a lot worse than the fishpan lady…

    Aug 9, 2007 | 12:40 am

     
  42. Marketman says:

    liza, you should have seen some of the comments from the fishpan lady that I completely deleted… :) They were actually worse…

    Aug 9, 2007 | 1:19 pm

     
  43. investors says:

    If you’re interested on some more info about the “other” scam associated with PIPC, read the following:

    http://www.pinoymoneytalk.com/2007/08/09/nbi-raids-pfec-philippine-office/
    http://www.pinoymoneytalk.com/2007/08/09/is-pfec-illegal/

    Aug 12, 2007 | 2:10 pm

     
 

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