GenSan residents lost P2.45 billion in investment scams

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 4 Oct) – Residents here and in the neighboring areas have so far lost around P2.45 billion from various investment scams that proliferated in the area these past months.

Members of the Kapa Community International hold a rally in General Santos City last June. MindaNews file photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

City Councilor Jose Edmar Yumang, chair of the council’s committee on laws, rules and review of barangay ordinances and executive orders, said Friday such figure was based on at least 726 complaints received by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as of Oct. 1.

Citing a report from the NBI-Sarangani/General Santos District Office, he said at least 19 illegal investment schemes have been documented to have scammed residents through promised interest payouts of 30 to 400 percent a month.

“These investment schemes have already collapsed, with some reportedly operating for just a week,” he said in a radio interview.

The official said 271 complaints from civilian victims of the Pulis Paluwagan Movement or PPM who claimed to have been swindled by its operators of around P2 billion.

PPM, which allegedly operated for some time early this year inside the city police office headquarters here, was reported to have also scammed thousands of police personnel from parts of Region 12.

Yumang, who spearheaded a legislative inquiry on the matter, said 32 victims of Shantal Marketing reported losing around P302 million from the defunct investment scheme.

But he said the NBI only received 152 complaints amounting to P47 million from victims of Alabel-Maasim Credit Cooperative or Alamcco and just 32 with losses of P3.4 million from investors of the Kapa Community Ministry International Inc.

Kapa and Alamcco closed down following enforcement operations last June ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Citing their inquiry, Yumang said they were overwhelmed by the extent of the investment scams that operated in the area.

“They practically sprouted left and right, and duped our residents right on their faces,” the councilor said.

He said most of the entities behind the investment schemes operated without proper licenses or permits but a number of them were able to secure business permits from the city government, with some just operating for 5 to 10 days.

Yumang said the P2.45-billion losses reported by investors so far was only from the NBI and does not include complaints filed with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Region 12.

He said the NBI and CIDG have been tasked to receive and process complaints from investors and submit them to the Department of Justice.

“Overall, we’re looking at total investment losses of P3 to P4 billion. There are other investment entities that were not on the list so we’re counting around 25 or more that actually operated. It’s really shocking,” he said.

Yumang urged other victims of investment scams to “open their eyes and minds” and file complaints with the NBI and CIDG.

“Don’t prolong your agony. Wait no more. Fight for your rights. Be a victim no more.
Holding back is not an assurance for the return of your investment,” he said in a Facebook post.

The official said his committee has already completed the three-week inquiry last Wednesday and will make a report to the city council in its regular session Tuesday next week.

“We will come up with proper and effective long-lasting city ordinances so that incidents like these, which involve the lives of a number of victims who were gravely devastated and saddened, will never occur again in the history of General Santos City,” he added. (MindaNews)