The Top 5 Scams in the Philippines | Marvin Germo

The Top 5 Scams in the Philippines

By: Marvin Germo | July 10, 2014

This is a continuation of our scam series, where the heart of this series  to protect every Filipino from scams and teach them ways on how it can be spotted, avoided, and ultimately reported.  My greatest desire is to see you prosper and see your money grow and for it to still be there when you need it the most.  I saw members of my family who got scammed in the past by the Tibayan and good harvest scams.  The scammers took my family’s savings and  lured them at the returns that they can get from it.  It happened to my family but it should not happen to yours.  Being scammed takes away the confidence of people to invest in legit investments.

To everyone reading this series I hope you can share this to as many Filipinos as you can specially to our OFWs and people in the provinces.

For this week, our very own “Scamcrow” columnist Mon Lao would be sharing the Top 5 scams that rocked that Philippines.

PDAF Sam

Like the scams that rocked the world, the Philippines has its own version of scams that duped even the most sophisticated of people. The sad fact is that educated ones fell prey to sweet talkers to the point that their guards were down and greed set in . Once emotion got the better of them, the job of these scammers became a lot easier.

Below are the scams that made the news in the past:

1. Aman Futures. In 2012, this organization was able to dupe some 15,000 people in Visayas and Mindanao with a staggering amount of  Php 12 billion (US$ 295,000,000 est.), the biggest scam the country has seen. The owner, Malaysian Manuel K. Amalilio, escaped to Malaysia but was later arrested and jailed for the possession of fake passport. He has yet to be deported back .

To lure the public into joining the network, the group used the “double-your-money” scheme. There were about 8,000 complaints filed against the company .Its thousands of victims include local politicians, police and military personnel, government employees, market vendors, farmers, drivers, retired employees and overseas workers. Among the people who were fooled were twenty one police officers and two fire officers. The system collapsed when the said officers filed a syndicated estafa complaint against the company. They said they were promised a return of their investment within eight days and a 50 percent to 80 percent profit for 17 to 20 days.

2. Legacy Group. The BSP describes the Legacy Group as a “swindling syndicate.” The late owner, Celso delos Angeles, allegedly misused depositors’ money leading to the collapse of 12 rural banks and 3 pre-need firms. He siphoned depositors’money to finance his extravagant lifestyle and to pay off government officials for protection.

As a lender, the group used the schemes “Motorcyle Loan Program” and “Investments Loan” program to entice “fake borrowers” to sign loan documents in exchange for commissions. They made it appear that funds were withdrawn by the “fake borrowers” but the proceeds were actually deposited to another account controlled by Delos Angeles.

To attract depositors into the bank, the group offered the following :

  • Double your money in three years
  • Double your money in five years
  • Double your money in six years
  • Hybrid five years
  • Hybrid six years
  • 3-Year-Buy-Back

In the double your money schemes, the deposits would yield 100 percent after three to six years. It was offered in all rural banks affiliated with the Legacy Group.

The “hybrid five years” scheme, offered 20 percent per annum interest. The initial 20 percent was given upfront to the depositor. Then they were given monthly interests equivalent to 20 percent interest per annum. On the fifth year, they get back their principal deposit.

For the “3-Year-Buy-Back” scheme”. deposits will double in three years and then the investors will receive 12 quarterly post dated checks as payment of the investment in an amount that is double the amount of the original investment. So attractive was the scheme that their bank in Leyte was able to attract depositors even outside the Samar and Leyte areas.

As of September 30, 2008, the bank was able to accumulate P467 million in total deposits. But in reality, the bank was already operating at negative net worth of P239 million. When it closed on Dec. 12, 2008, the bank only had about P1 million cash on hand.

As of October 2010, the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation said it has already shelled out a total of P11 billion to depositors.

3. PDAF Scam. The Priority Development Assistance Fund scam, also called the PDAF scam or the pork barrel scam, is a political scandal involving the alleged misuse by several members of the Congress and Senate. The PDAF is a lump-sum discretionary fund granted to each lawmakers for spending on priority development projects of the Philippine government. The scam was first exposed on July 12, 2013, pointing to businesswoman  Janet Lim Napoles as the mastermind. after Benhur K. Luy, her second cousin and former personal assistant, blew the whistle. Luy’s testimony has expanded to cover Napoles’ involvement in a wider scam involving the misuse of PDAF funds from 2003 to 2013.

It is estimated that the Philippine government was defrauded of some P10 billion of taxpayers’money with the money diverted to Napoles, and other government officials  The scam has provoked public outrage, and has demanded the pork barrel be scrapped. Presently Napoles and 3 Senators implied in the scam are now under litigation.

4. Multitel Group.  This group was run by Rose Baladjay and was registered with the SEC in 1998. The group was able to attract investors by offering them 4 percent monthly interest of 48 percent per annum, guaranteed for a minimum investment of P10,000. Investors were also offered an alternative of double-your-money scheme for a lock-in period of 18 months. Baladjay also utilized counselors to recruit investors. Each successful recruited investors earned the counselor one to 20 percent commission.

The then chairperson Lilia Bautista that they have been receiving reports that Multitel had conduit companies such as Everflow and One Heart offering investors 10 percent return per annum. Alarmed by what Multitel is offering, the SEC issued a cease and desist order in March 2001.

Before the scam was busted, it was estimated to have victimized at least two million people including politicians and cabinet members and the wealth damage is around 100 billion pesos,

5. PIPC. Just as the FrancSwiss scam was on the wane, another scam  replaced  the financial sector involving a Singaporean and hundreds of wealthy Filipino investors. PIPC was a high-yielding investment program that ran from March to July 2007. It was classified as an internet ponzi scheme and promised investors 4.5% interest daily for their minimum investments of USD1,000., which could be encash through Internet-to-bank transactions.

When the scheme was busted during an entrapment operation by the NBI, it was discovered that FrancSwiss deceived investors to the tune of P1 billion.  Among the victims were politicians, showbiz personalities, OFWs, generals and retirees.

A popular showbiz couple invested in Francswiss but did not disclose the total amount invested. A former PBA star also admitted to having  invested USD3,000 in FrancSwiss.

When the scam was busted, Singaporean owner Michael H.K. Liew, has already fled the country and disappeared, supposedly taking with him between US$140 million and US$250 million of investors’ funds.

What are the lessons we can learn from the above stories? Before investing, it pays to INVESTigate.

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Mon Lao 2Edmund Lao is a Registered Financial Planner who has a passion to help Filipinos invest and right way and avoid being scammed.  He is known by many as the “SCAMCROW” loved by investors feared by scammers.  His passion is to save Filipinos from scams and teach them to invest properly in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.  He owns the website wealth-wonder-boy.blogspot.com. 

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