Loan company’s PC seized over alleged illegal operations
AUTHORITIES on February 12 seized a personal computer from Cashtrees Lending Corp. filed at the company’s office in Pasig on the basis of a warrant alleging that the equipment is used for unauthorized and abusive online lending activities. There have also been arrests, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
According to a statement released by the SEC last Thursday, the seizure of the equipment was based on a search warrant issued by Branch 46 of the Manila Regional Magistrate’s Court. The SEC said personnel from the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department and the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) implemented the warrant to search, seize and examine Cashtrees Lending’s computer.
The SEC said the search warrant against Cashtrees Lending was for misuse of a device sanctioned under the Cybercrimes Prevention Act of 2012, in operating unregistered online lending applications in violation of Republic Act (RA) 9474 (Loan Companies Regulation Act).
The SEC said on-site digital forensic examination of the seized device showed Cashtrees Lending employees operated online lending applications under the following brands: Happylend; urgent loan; Easy money; Good pocket; fictitious loan; Good star; Swipe money; 365 Species; Domestic peso; Mega loan; Treecash; and Goldpeso.
Cashtrees Lending is registered as a company and holds a certificate of authorization to operate as a lending company. It operates registered online lending platforms Happylend, Creditcash and Cashmore.
However, the majority of online lending applications handled by Cashtrees Lending were unregistered. These include the following: Goodpocket; Easy money; and 365 Cash and Rushloan. These were the subject of cease and desist orders issued by the SEC.
Following the digital forensic examination, the PNP arrested 46 employees including the manager of Cashtrees Lending for violating the Cybercrime Prevention Act 2012 and RA 9474.
On February 13, the SEC and the PNP filed an investigative complaint against the arrested employees of Cashtrees Lending with the Justice Department. The regulator said it has received numerous complaints against online loan applications for various breaches of RA 9474 and for abusive debt collection practices.
In response, the SEC established a task force to address complaints involving online lending operators and to take appropriate action to prevent lending companies and their operators from engaging in abusive practices and activities.
The task force is coordinating closely with other law enforcement agencies such as the PNP-ACG and the National Bureau of Investigation to crack down on illegal online loan applications, the market regulator added.
To date, the SEC has revoked the licenses of 36 finance and/or loan companies due to various violations of applicable rules and regulations.
The national government regulatory agency also revoked the registration certificate of a total of 2,081 loan companies for their failure to obtain the certificate of authority, while 72 online loan applications were ordered. to stop their operations.