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How can OFWs avoid falling victims to financial scams?

by | Feature

A number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the UAE have fallen prey to online scammers and fraudsters, turning all their hard-earned money into ashes.

Recently, the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi warned OFWs in UAE of dealing with unregistered investment schemes that target OFWs by promising big returns in a short period of time.

An OFW in Dubai as defrauded out of cash amounting to Dh33,000 (Php476,555) in a scam that claimed he won Dh500,000 (Php7,220,543).

Speaking to The Filipino Times, financial adviser Sherwin Joseph Felicidario said that the problem boils down to the lack of knowledge on financial literacy among Filipinos, not only OFWs.

“I see this as a problem with financial literacy. Filipinos don’t take financial literacy seriously. For most Filipinos, it’s a waste of time and to some, if they don’t have the money, they do not care. But financial literacy is a serious matter,” Felicidario said.

Sherwin Joseph Felicidario is a financial adviser in one of the top financial companies in the Philippines. He has been helping clients in financial planning and management for almost a decade now. He is an advocate of financial literacy.

Felicidario added that educating oneself on financial literacy is not solely the responsibility of OFWs but also their families who are left in the Philippines who receive their remittances.

Too good to be true?

Felicidario shared 7 red flags that OFWs must be aware of when dealing with financial investments.
If it’s too good to be true, it must be checked. Go to the nearest government agency that can assist you.
Promising sky high returns in just a matter of weeks! Remember: investments take time to earn.
A promise of guaranteed returns. Most of the investment returns are non-guaranteed and time is an element you should consider.
Investments from a never-heard company or institution.
Investments with no proof or documentation.
Upfront fees or charges with no proper documentation and receipts.
Calls or emails from unknown person from an unknown institution.

“Some bad people will always be there, but education is our best tool to fight the problem. The more we know about investments and scams, the more we can protect our family,” Felicidario said.

How can OFWs avoid being the next victims of these scammers?

To avoid falling victims to financial and investment scams, OFWs must do the following preventive steps.

– Educate themselves . Read articles or watch videos on financial literacy from credible and reliable sources, such as reputable individuals, business, or news organizations. OFWs now get information online, but we have to select and verify the source. It must be credible and reliable.
– Check the business proposal and verify the investment or business from the government regulatory or government agency — such as securities and exchange commission, Bangko Sentral, and other similar agencies.
– Do not give personal details (complete name, date of birth, identification numbers, etc…) over the phone or via email.
– Never click links on email asking for personal information or password update.
– For online platform, check if the site is secured or with security layer. Usually with “https://” on the address bar.
– Ask family members in the Philippines to do the same. Exercise due diligence. Do your thorough research before investing.
– Ask for second opinion. Verify the business proposal or investments with at least three people, who might have knowledge about it.
– Seek professional help. Ask your trusted financial adviser.

“We must educate ourselves. We must find time to study and look into options — on savings, credit or loans, investments, and other financial instruments available for OFWs. For OFW families, we must also educate those left here in the Philippines,” Felicidario said.

Financial scams targeting OFWs

A report published by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in May 2018 showed that Filipinos are still considered “financially illiterate”. Citing results from a study conducted by the World Bank, BSP said only 2 percent of Filipinos were able to answer seven questions related to financial literacy.

“The study also showed that Filipinos lack specific knowledge to make informed financial decisions,” the central bank said.

The report also noted that those who are financially literate have “have higher levels of savings and diversified investments, and were more competent in managing debt.”

Among the financial and investment scams targeting OFWs are as follows:

– Easy-return investment scam – Fraudulent investment firms ask OFWs for money in exchange of high return of investment (ROI). Some offer an ROI of 30 percent in 15 days, and an ROI of 60% in 60 days.
– Non-existent properties – Scammers offer OFWs properties in the Philippines that are either non-existent, named under other owner, or already sold to another individual.
– Prize money scam – Scammer who introduce themselves as a part of a company who randomly chooses an OFW to win a big amount of cash prize. The scammer will ask the OFW was to transfer money for the processing of necessary documents to be able to claim the prize.
– Online auction purchase scam – OFWs are asked to join an online auction to buy different items. The person with the winning bid is asked to transfer money using a “fictitious name” to protect themselves. Once the transaction has been made, the item will never arrive.
– Business investment scam – The scammer will act as a member of a major corporation and offers OFWs to become a stockholder by financing different business ventures. In return, the OFW will receive financial returns.

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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