OFW group in Saudi Arabia loses P100M in investment scam


A GROUP of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) based in Saudi Arabia have learned their lessons the hard way on how to properly invest their hard-earned money after being duped into investing some P100 million in what appears to be a high-yield investment but turned out to be a fraudulent scheme.

Bernard Olalia, Labor and Employment undersecretary and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) officer-in-charge, called on millions of migrant Filipino workers to be cautious in dealing with persons or group of persons that offered “high-yielding” investments.

He advised OFWs to invest their money instead to the newly-opened OFW Bank, which President Duterte inaugurated on Wednesday, and become part-owner of a bank that they can truly call their own.

Olalia pointed out that even if a company was registered with the Security Exchange Commission (SEC), it was not a guarantee that it won’t do a “hanky-panky” or underhanded activity.

“Use your common sense. If it’s too good to be true you have to be cautious and think hard before parting with you money because more likely than not, it is a scam,” Olali told The Manila Times on Friday.

Reports reaching the POEA showed that the OFWs were recruited by the Sangguniang Masang Pilipino International Incorporated (SMPII), a Philippine-based non-profit organization, and encouraged them to make an investment with ALMASAI Finance and Investment (now ALMASAI Equity Holding Corporation).

ALMASAI, with office address at EDSA, Barangay Socorro, Murphy, Cubao, Quezon City is reportedly owned by a certain Elpidio Reyes Tanaliga Jr.

The OFWs said they were required to put an initial investment of P50,000 with a guaranteed interest of 5 percent each month.

ALMASAI allegedly issued 13 postdated checks — 12 checks for the monthly earning of the investment and the 13th check as payment of capital investment.

But after making investments reaching up to P100 million, the OFWs said that they stopped receiving  any of the promised interests and have lost contact with Tanaliga.

They alleged that the checks issued supposedly for their monthly earnings were declined by the bank due to insufficient fund.

Olalia said the POEA was still waiting for the workers formal complaints for coordination with the SEC and the Department of Justice (DOJ) for proper action.

The SEC has continuously warned the public not to investment their money in such fraudulent and suspicious transactions because the promise of very high income is a tell tale sign that it is an investment scam. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL



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