• Bicol policemen, teachers lose millions to scammers

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    LEGAZPI CITY: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Bicol reported that policemen and teachers wanting to double their money have fallen prey to investment scammers victimizing mostly residents in Camarines Sur.

    Atty. Fiona Mae Corral-Bobis, SEC securities counsel said that even a retired banker lost his million to scammers but unfortunately the SEC only learned of the incident after the victims complained when they could not get the interest or return-of-investment.

    “We are conducting thorough surveillance and investigation. We can only do so much, and we hope more people read our website,” Atty. Bobis said.

    Serving as the government’s frontline agency, the SEC checks whether investors are safe where they put their money and if investment companies offering high profits on investments are legitimate.

    “When the offer is too good to be true, then it is not true,” Bobis said.

    The SEC officials said that the permits of numerous erring firms in Bicol have been revoked, but unfortunately these erring companies can register again using different names.

    They added that charges against two erring corporations, the Roco Agnabo and Nes Em, have been filed in court.

    Bobis said that at least seven scammer firms were uncovered in Camarines Sur with more than 1,000 victims, mostly retired policemen and teachers. The erring firms collected at least P300 million from their victims.

    Another SEC lawyer, Alfonso Lanuza, said that for the last 20 years at least P80 billion pesos have been lost to scammers here.

    “Unfortunately, our office is the last agency to know the scam because the victims reported or complained to our office if the money they have invested is not gaining anymore,” the official added.

    Lending companies are under the SEC and according to Atty. Bobis these lending firms are not registered.

    “More often than not, they’re not registered. They registered as traders or as a trading corporation but seldom do they register as a lending firm,” she said.

    SEC officials warned the public not to trust investment companies involved in get-rich-easy schemes.

    Lawyer Marylou Duka-Castillo, SEC regional director in Bicol said that the usual technique of scammers is through a business community meeting where they lure potential investors.

    Castillo admitted that to date, no scammers have been put behind bars in Bicol.

    “In the Philippines, only Baladjay was convicted and imprisoned. Before investing your hard-earned savings, investigate first if the firm you’re authorizing to keep your money is legal,” Castillo advised.

    Rosario Baladjay of the infamous Multitel “pyramiding” investment scam was convicted of securities fraud for conning hundreds of people into investing in her firm, the Multinational Telecom Investors Corporation.

    RHAYDZ B. BARCIA

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