GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 27 Nov) – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed syndicated estafa charges against an alleged recruiter of another pyramiding investment scam that operated in nearby Koronadal City, an official said on Tuesday.
Lawyer Angelito Magno, NBI Region 12 director, identified the suspect as Arlene Jicoli, a resident of Purok Urban Poor, Barangay Sta. Cruz in Koronadal City, who was arrested last Friday in an entrapment operation in the area.
He said the suspect was charged based on complaints filed by the scam’s alleged victims before the NBI regional office in Koronadal City.
Most of Jicoli’s victims, who were supposedly lured by her “double your money” investment scheme, were shopping mall workers in the city, Magno said.
“She was able to convince her victims to invest P10,000 to P20,000 with a promised interest of 10 to 20 percent in just one week,” the official said in a radio interview.
Magno said they were still determining the number of investors who were duped by the suspect’s investment scam and the possibility that several other personalities were behind it.
He urged the other victims of Jicoli to come out and immediately file their complaints at the NBI regional office.
In the meantime, Magno urged local residents to refrain from entering into dubious or suspicious investment schemes that promise huge paybacks without much effort.
He said residents should first verify or check the identities and backgrounds of people behind proposed investment ventures before taking any part on it.
“We should verify if they have existing offices that are operating legally and if they have proper contact numbers like active landlines,” he said.
The official said residents should shun from investment recruiters who only give out mobile phone numbers as “they could easily disappear along with your investments.”
South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. advised residents to check first with concerned government offices the legitimacy of investment schemes being offered by recruiters before giving in to them.
“Investments that offer instant and huge paybacks are very risky and could be some form of a scam,” he said.
The governor said the provincial government is supporting the NBI-12’s ongoing crackdown against pyramiding investment schemes in the province, among them the uncovered operations of controversial firm Aman Futures Group Philippines Inc. in T’boli and Norala towns.
NBI-12 had estimated that around 400 residents in the province were duped by the Aman Group through its Ponzi-type investment scheme.
An initial 20 victims have executed complaint-affidavits detailing the illegal investment operations of the Aman Group through its local agents, who were earlier identified by the NBI-12 as sisters Rhoda Lilio-Corpuz and Girlie Lilio-Paner of T’boli town.
In a raid last week on a house that served as Aman Group’s alleged branch in T’boli town, NBI operatives uncovered documents detailing around P888 million worth of investment transactions in the area that were facilitated by the two agents.
The Department of Justice earlier created a special panel that will handle the complaints and the filing of charges against leaders and agents of the company, which reportedly amassed around P12 billion in Ponzi-type investments from 15,000 people in several parts of Visayas and Mindanao.
Several top officials of the Aman Group led by its fugitive founder Manuel Amalilio, who has reportedly fled to Malaysia, are presently facing charges of syndicated estafa based on the initial complaints filed by some of their victims in Pagadian City. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)