Don’t fall for investment scams, public told anew

THE Philippine National Police yesterday urged anew the public to be wary of fake investment scams amid their ongoing investigation into the ‘protectors’ of now-jailed KAPA ministry leader Joel Apolinario who has been accused of masterminding a fraudulent scheme which is believed to have defrauded tens of thousands of people of hundreds of millions of pesos over the past few years.

PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, has ordered the investigation of the mayor of Lingig, Surigao del Sur Mayor Jimmy Luna for allegedly allowing Apolinario to hide in his exclusive property while in hiding, enabling the latter to stockpile weapons and ammunition which were used by his followers in battling officers early morning last July 21.

According to Police Regional Office 13 director, Brigadier General Joselito T. Esquivel Jr., Mayor  Luna would be asked to shed light on information that he allowed Apolinario and his armed supporters and bodyguards to stay in a remote island resort in the area. Reports said the mayor allegedly ‘sold or rented’ the island to Apolinario when he began hiding from authorities.

Police raided the isolated resort in Sitio Dahican in Barangay Handamayan in Lingig municipality  triggering a gunbattle which left two armed supporters of Apolinario dead.

The raid prompted renewed warnings from the government to be aware of different tactics being used by fraudsters to lure investors into scams.

First, authorities said that before making an investment, people should check the background of anyone selling or offering an investment and confirm that the person is currently registered or licensed.

Second, don’t believe on deceptive claims and common tricks being used by con artists to attract investors, including some who are using religion to convince their followers to invest money on them with ‘so good to be true’ interest rates, some offering as much as 30 percent or 50 percent interest per month.

The PNP leadership said ‘get rich quickly and easily’ is one of the most common gimmicks being used by syndicates to lure targets. In many cases, victims were duped into believing they will get rich and earn tons of money in a very short period of time.

Many masterminds of fake investment scams in the country who are now in jail became known for projecting a ‘super rich’ image, displaying their wealth, fancy cars, mansions, helicopters, yachts and even armed bodyguards each time they go around town.

Once their cover are blown away, syndicate leaders resort to ‘fake testimonials’ from paid individuals who falsely claim to have gotten rich from their investment schemes which offered ‘monthly skyrocketing interest rates.’

The ‘fraudulent get rich quick scheme’  came into the fore anew following the arrest of Apolinario. Gen. Gamboa has commended the Caraga policemen involved in the successful raid even as he ordered the creation of a special investigating team to look into the reported involvement of police personnel and troops in KAPA's alleged investment scam.

“The special task group is also there to investigate kung sino 'yung mga kasali dito, 'yung sinasabi nila na hindi lang members ng kapulisan o members ng Armed Forces at iba pang mga empleyado ng gobyerno,” Gen. Gamboa said.

Esquivel said it seemed to be that Apolinario was building his own "private army" amid suspicions that some active and retired soldiers and policemen are acting as his security consultants or bodyguards themselves.

The group has been accused of enticing the public to invest at least P10,000 into the organization in exchange for an impossible ‘30 percent  monthly return for life.’

Facing syndicated estafa charges,the 46-year-old Apolinario and 23 of his armed supporters were arrested during the raid  which led in the killing of two armed supporters of the KAPA leader and the seizure of a cache of high-powered weapons including 30 pieces of M-16 automatic rifles, two M-4 rifles, one Garand rifle, three 60 cal. Machine guns, one cal. 50 Sniper rifle, three cal. .22 rifles, one Carbine automatic rifle, one 12-gauge shotgun, two RPGs, five cal. .45 semi-automatic pistols and hundreds of rounds of assorted live ammunition.