• Remittance scam suspects did not act on their own


    The two suspects arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Monday following reports of a scam designed to bilk beneficiaries of thousands of pesos in remittances from abroad, told authorities that they simply acted on instructions of a former remittance firm employee who, at press time, remains at large.

    During interrogation by the NBI, Arlene Galvan and Joshua Aron Estrellado, who were nabbed in separate sting operations, said that they were receiving instructions from one Jackilyn de Vera to assume fictitious names, present fake identification and pose as beneficiaries of money remitted from various countries through LMI Express Delivery and released by MLhuillier.

    De Vera, they said, started the scheme only last month while still under the employ of LMIE Delivery and having access to remittance transactions being coursed through the firm.

    No system hacking
    De Vera’s manager at LMIE Delivery, who requested anonymity, said that there was no computer hacking that took place in carrying out the scam, as earlier reported by The Manila Times in its October 9 edition.

    “There was no need to hack our system because, as a remittance delivery staff, de Vera had full and authorized access to beneficiaries’ names, addresses and pay-out amounts,” the manager said.

    The LMIE Delivery official said de Vera simply sent out e-mail notices to MLhuillier on the change of beneficiary and instructed her accomplices to claim the money under assumed names.

    “MLhuillier became suspicious because they noticed that de Vera was using a personal or private email address, and not the one that LMI issues its employees,” he added.

    E-mail notices
    De Vera’s modus operandi, according to the LMIE Delivery official, was fairly simple and perpetrated with her main accom-plice and boyfriend, Estrellado.

    “She would e-mail MLhuillier on the change of beneficiary and then instruct Estrellado to find people, like Arlene Galvan, who would supposedly go to the pay-out branch of ML-huillier and claim the money after presenting fake iden-tification,” he narrated. “The plan was for the money to be taken to Estrellado, who then would pay the impostor a certain percentage,” he added.

    He added that the de Vera-Estrellado scam had employed various other people using such names as Annaliza Bautista, Rogielyn Cabinian and Caroline Quizon.

    “In all, the duo attempted to run off with P80,000 in various remittances coursed thru LMIE Delivery by senders in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan and Northridge [California, USA],” he said, adding that scams in the remittance business do happen once in a while as isolated instances.

    “Vigilance is key and we here at LMIE Delivery never let our guard down,” he said.

    According to the joint affidavit of arrest executed by NBI Agents Emelito Santos Jr. and Joseph Martinez, together with Senior Inspectors Allan Elefante, Edgardo Kawada, Ferdinand Manuel, and Nestor Gutierrez—all operatives of NBI-National Capital Region—de Vera emailed yet again MLhuillier and arranged for the change of a transaction beneficiary name to Arlene Galvan, who would subsequently make the with-drawal of the remittance money from the San Francisco del Monte (Frisco) branch of MLhuillier on October 7.

    As early as 11 a.m. on that date, the financial services division of MLhuillier sent a text blast to the managers of all its branches, warning them about Galvan.

    When Galvan appeared at the Frisco branch, she went through the regular paperwork leading to the release of the money totaling P18,700 in marked bills. As soon as she accepted the money and signed the receipt, the branch security guard put her under citizen’s arrest and held her in custody, until the NBI operatives arrived and took her.

    That evening, Galvan, tog-ether with NBI authorities, went to Caloocan City to keep her rendezvous with Estrellado for the handover and the pay-off. In yet another sting oper-ation, the operatives came out of hiding and arrested Es-trellado as soon as they visibly ascertained that the marked bills were in his hands. jun medina


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