UNDERCOVER government investigations have found that “networking” firms had lured mostly UST students. But while they are “victims,” Thomasians who “gamble” their money to join networking schemes might also end up in jail, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned.

“We conducted undercover investigations and we found out that most of the victims were from UST,” lawyer Lalaine Monserate, head of SEC’s Enforcement and Prosecution Department, told the Varsitarian. “We pretended that we’re interested to join the business and the students, who were wearing their UST uniforms, admitted that they are from UST.”

Monserate said some students even used tuition money to pay for the “joining fee.”

“Napaka-naive kasi ng mga bata,” she said. “When you attend [recruitment sessions], they would tell you that with an investment of about P7,300, you can earn as much as P450,000 a month if you are good at recruiting, so students are really enticed to join.”

In exchange for the entry fee, a participant is often given a box of products, insurance coverage, an Internet card, and travel incentives, among others.

During recruitment sessions, some “members” of the company would claim that through networking, they were able to travel abroad, buy cars, and purchase their own houses, Monserate said.

She declined to identify the networking firms involved as they are still under investigation, but said the SEC would file criminal cases against them soon. Thomasians are not exempted from the investigation, she said.

“When you recruit, you become an agent of the company,” she said. “So we’ll go after you, especially if you have recruited many people.”

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Monserate said networking firms offer products such as glutathione soap and virgin coconut oil to provide a “semblance of legitimacy,” but the focus really was on the “recruitment side.”

“[Recruiters] claim that you do not have to sell the products, because as long as you recruit, you will earn a commission—and that’s not allowed by law,” Monserate said.

Pyramiding, an “investment fraud” which rewards participants with commission after recruiting other people to join the program, is a violation of the Consumer Act of the Philippines and the Securities Regulation Code.

Under Section 73 of the Code, a person found guilty of engaging in pyramiding must pay a fine of P50,000 to P5 million, and could be imprisoned for seven to 21 years.

The recruitment of UST students into various networking schemes has reached alarming proportions, Faculty of Engineering Dean Josefin de Alban said in an interview.

After receiving several complaints from parents, De Alban campaigned against such activities through the public address system and room-to-room visits.

He was not able to disclose the number of students involved in networking, but said there have been “many.”

The networking recruitment drive, however, is not confined to Engineering students.

A student from the Faculty of Arts and Letters (Artlets), who refused to be named, has just quit from his four-month stint in networking to focus on his studies. He claims to have earned P200,000 in just two months.

“In the networking company that I joined, [the problem was] I had to be at their office in Ortigas everyday. It’s far because I live near UST,” the Artlets student said.

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He said he had to pay P7,400 upon joining the group.

‘Risk-taking’

Economics professor Alvin Ang said “there’s nothing bad with networking” because it helps students develop “risk-taking”—an entrepreneurial skill—but students must first be adequately trained and educated on how the system really works.

“Networking in itself is not bad. What is bad is if it’s unknown and you plunge into it. You probably will drown,” Ang said. “The problem is that they do not know the risks they are taking, kaya kung anu-ano ang nangyayari. The only thing they know is that they would earn money.”

“We want our graduates to become globally competitive and you will become competitive if you study hard,” Ang said. “At the bottomline, this is a university; hindi ito palengke.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! I almost tried networking. Reading this article, I’m glad that I didn’t join. I heard in the news that the “pyramiding” of networking will eventually collapse.

  2. Office in Ortigas, 7,300-7,400 a month… Hm. I think I know which networking company the people interviewed by this article are talking about. And I agree. That company is highly suspect. I know people who have lost money — up to ten thousand and a hundred thousand — networking for them.

  3. I actually joined a networking firm few months ago but quit later on. Mind you, I got nothing in return. I can’t stand deceiving people just to have them join the company. And I don’t want the environment of having MONEY as your priority. They even underrate minimum paid jobs – such as call center agents, as they say. This news must spread to other people. C’mon, people! Money isn’t everything! You can’t be happy by having such money that they offer. It will just make you want for more.

  4. There are a lot of networking schemes out there, a lot of them can be found in Ortigas. I have been invited numerous times, and sometimes they are disguised as “part-time jobs” I as a UST student would like to earn by myself, I have declined ALL networking offers no matter how enticing they may be (Some even offered to pay for 3/4 of the fee) I sought a ad on the internet calling for students to make 8k-20k a month, the description said “Advertising” and being a franchise consultant, upon reaching the “interview” I found out that it was nothing more than a networking scam. I know people who have lied to their friends to borrow money for the membership fee, no matter how enticing the offer is, I always tell myself that cheating other people out of their money is wrong and I’m glad I stuck by my beliefs.

  5. Naimbita ako once or twice na sa mga ganyan. Always the same pattern.
    S
    -showing ng company credentials
    -pakita ang product kuno ng company at yung starter kit na bibigay sa iyo.
    -pakita on how much you will earn sa pagpapaikot ng pera with the products at magkano joining fee
    -lait ng onti sa mga regular jobs at kung magkano projected na kikitain mo(plus kung meron sila pakita na member na sikat)
    -sabihin na sa sobra na nila dami pera, di nanila alam gagawin dun
    -spiel on how theirs is a legit company
    -then enter speaker na supposedely most successful member nila na may nakascan na check ng sweldo daw niya tapos discuss na ng diagram which looks like a pyramid.

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