By Ignacio R. Bunye
Time and again, scammers never fail to victimize many Filipinos with their double-your-money or get-rich-quick schemes.
This, despite frequent reminders that “if its too good to be true, it is not true.”
The latest well publicized case involves a couple who fleeced gullible customers of almost 900 million pesos by using as bait supposedly fantastic returns on bitcoin investments. The couple is now facing charges for syndicated estafa.
A few years back, there was the Baladjay pyramid scam, which amassed for the perpetrators multi-millions of pesos . Mind you, the victims were not just ordinary persons. They included high-profile personalities such as politicians, cabinet members, and police officers.
Even PNP Chief Bato dela Rosa admitted that he had been victimized by a similar scheme early in his career.
The inducement – guaranteed interest at 4 percent monthly or 48 percent per year. An alternative was a double-your-money scheme if the investor opted to lock in his money for 18 months.
A Makati regional trial court later sentenced the perpetrators to at least 455 years in prison for 65 counts of violations of the Securities Regulation Code (SRC). But whether the victims can recover their money remains very much in doubt.
A businessman bought into several troubled rural banks. He then used the banks as his vehicle for collecting people’s deposits.
He used the same formula – off market deposit rates – to entice depositors, including religious organizations and educational institutions. This operator then siphoned off the deposits and used them for his other businesses. The unsafe and unsound business practices led to the closure of the banks by the Bangko Sentral.
Some of the depositors whose deposits were covered by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation were able to recover their investments. Others, who invested beyond the PDIC coverage, were not so lucky.
The scheming businessman died of a lingering illness even before he went to trial.
Other scams don’t necessarily involve money. A retired police officer was watching TV at his sala when a well-dressed visitor knocked at his door one day.
The visitor introduced himself and announced that a relative of the retiree had sent the latter a huge flat-screen TV . The TV was just awaiting to be picked up at their office.
In a voice calculated to be heard by the househelp, the visitor announced: Tamang tama sir. Dapat na pa lang palitan ninyo itong TV ninyo.
The visitor gave the retired police officer their office address and left. Excited, the retiree hurriedly dressed up to claim the newly arrived TV.
Five minutes, later, the visitor returned and asked the housemaid to turn over to him the officer’s TV. “Sabi ng Sir ninyo, hindi na raw niya kailangan itong TV. Mayroon nang bago at mas malaki na darating.”
The retiree later learned that no person by the name of his caller worked in the address given to him.
The retiree was so embarrassed by what happened that he did not bother to have the case blottered. He should be. He used to be a police criminal investigator.
It is good to be reminded, once again, of this wise counsel: “Ang naghahanap ng kagitna, isang salop ang nawawala.”
Immersion – post script
Last week, I wrote about a group of UST students who decided to help distressed Ivatan farmers in Barangay Maligaya, Sitio Batanes, Dinalupihan, Bataan.
The Ivatans expressed their need for carabaos and plows to help them till their land, located 7 kilometers uphill, and to transport their produce.
The Tomasinos sought the help of the Department of Agriculture where they were initially given the run-around. So the students decided to take into their own hands by raising funds from fellow students.
The crusade of the young students caught public attention.
A subsequent Facebook post indicated that Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol later invited the students to his office where they had a very fruitful meeting.
Better late than never.
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