SEC hits online investment scam; Bohol ‘Plugglers’ warned

By LIGALIG MIKE ORTEGA

The government’s investment regulating body has warned the public to “exercise caution” before entrusting their money with Pluggle, an advertising website that offers monetary rewards for its members through recruitment of new members called downlines.

In Bohol, hundreds of unsuspecting Boholanos have joined the online bandwagon, dubbing themselves as “Bohol Plugglers,” and based on their recruitment motivation, they also embrace the word “Power” whenever they up the ante of a millionaire wannabe’s dream.

The scheme used by Pluggle may not be similar to the infamous Klikmart Shopping Rewards Club, another dubious investment firm that had duped thousands of misinformed “networkers” in Bohol before it was busted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in a 2015 nighttime raid, but the promise is always common: “Get rich as quick as possible with no effort at all.”

In its latest advisory, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) notified the public that PLUGGLE, INC. is “not authorized to solicit investments from the public as it has not secured the necessary license or permit from the Commission…”

The SEC issued the advisory after it learned that some individuals or groups purportedly representing PLUGGLE, Inc. are allegedly enticing the public to join the said online firm with an initial P1,000-investment.

According to reports reaching SEC, new recruits, after purchasing an activation code from other members or leaders, were assured of making money by logging on to the website (pluggle.com.ph) “every day” and by getting new referrals.

The activation code can also be purchased using a bitcoin, a virtual currency, which according to SEC is not endorsed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and is “neither issued or guaranteed by a central bank nor backed by any commodity.”

SEC said that based on Pluggle’s claims on its Facebook account, members are promised a return on investment at 30% – 100% profit in 12 days through six schemes including personal, login, group login, follow, leveling, and pairing bonuses

“To avoid overpayment, the Personal and Group login bonuses combined are

limited to One Thousand Three Hundred pesos (P1,300) for 12 days and the Pairing bonuses are limited to 30 pairs per day or Three Thousand pesos (P3,000) per day per account,” according to the reports received by SEC.

SEC said that those who act as brokers or agents of Pluggle, Inc. in convincing people to invest in Pluggle “may likewise be prosecuted and held criminally liable under Section 28 of the Securities Regulation Code and penalized with a maximum fine of P5 million or penalty of 21 years imprisonment or both.”

The public is further advised to call the SEC’s Enforcement and Investor Protection Department at (02) 818-6047 for any information about Pluggle’s investment activities.

 

PLUGGLE REACTS

In reaction to SEC’s advisory, the person or persons behind pluggle.com.ph posted today, October 12, a clarificatory statement (which can be read on pluggle.com.ph/register) addressed to its “affiliates.”

“As you all know, we are not and never will be an investment company. The concept of Pluggle is clear and known to all. But unfortunately, some people and sectors have misunderstood the way we do business, and maybe some members misrepresented Pluggle when talking to people,” Pluggle said on its website.

Pluggle said its management and lawyers will respond to SEC’s advisory, assuring its members that they are “committed to (providing) a long-term business for everyone and we are also committed to abide and comply with all existing laws.”

 

DOMAIN BACKGROUND

In its website, Pluggle names Google, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Youtube, and Vimeo as its “Social Media Partner.”

According to whois.domaintools.compluggle.com.ph was registered on April 6 this year and is set to expire (unless renewed) on April 6 next year.

Pluggle.com.ph is registered under a certain Alexis Palma, with a publicly-declared address at Arayat Mansion, P. Bernardo St., Kaunlaran, Quezon City.

The domain registrant Palma, as indicated on domaintools.com, is allegedly connected to Goonline PH, Inc.

It was not clear whether Goonline is registered with SEC.

But SEC has said in its advisory that Pluggle, Inc. is a government-registered company.

Based on Alexa ranking (as of October 12, 2017), pluggle.com.ph is the 192nd most visited website in the Philippines, and among millions of websites, it ranks 60,798 in global traffic.

As of October 15, 2017, the owner of pluggle.com.ph has shut down its online presence, leaving a notice to millionaire hopefuls that “We are performing several updates on our system and server. The maintenance is required in order to keep our database and server secured and up-to-date.”

 

REVIEW BY A THIRD PARTY WEBSITE

Meanwhile, a third-party website (webtrafficlounge.com/pluggle-review-huge-scam-or-legit-system/) has a take on the activities of Pluggle.

A certain Nick Pratt, in his review article, said that Pluggle is one of the latest MLM (multi-level marketing) opportunities whose company logo is “trying to rip off Google.”

“Like you’ll find with all pyramid schemes, Pluggle will be no more once recruitment activity eventually dies down. Most people will end up losing out, and only Alexis Palma will earn anything of value,” the review said.

“In other words, this is (a) scheme that you’ll want to stay as far away from as possible,” it added.

 

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