About a decade ago, an infamous phrase was coined during the controversy surrounding the proposed National Broadband Network project which was supposed to be undertaken by a Chinese company.
The phrase “moderate your greed” became a byword at that time to indicate that government officials and their cohorts were trying to dip their fingers into the $329 project for their benefit.
The same phrase can be said about those who were behind – and some victims as well – the investment scams that have continued to hound some parts of the country, particularly Mindanao.
It is not only the lack of financial literacy, but the huge greed, that push some people to take advantage of others, some of them their relatives, by coming up with investment schemes that would collapse eventually and would leave many defrauded of their hard-earned money.
The lust for bigger sums of money – in the case of others, the desire to get out of poverty without exerting much effort – usually pushes someone to bet in these schemes and because of jealousy as well as the desire to immediately get rich, people fall victim.
But the very sad fact is that some of those behind these scams, gifted with glib tongues, use faith or perceived intelligence in convincing their victims. Because there is a tendency for people to follow others who slowly profit from their action, the net for victims widens. This can be likened to farmers who usually plant crops that their neighbors plant after realizing that the latter make a killing.
So, what steps should be taken? First, government must come up with stringent rules in investment processes so that people who have ill-motives can be prevented. The other step is to provide better mechanisms to educate the people, particularly those who have less in life, in financial literacy.
These steps may not prevent the prevalence of scams – there will always be victims for as long as there is greed – but it might slowly minimize it.