BY SHIELA G. GELERA
Twenty-five individuals have sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation-Bacolod after they were victimized by a rice investment scam last week.
NBI Bacolod head, Renoir Baldovino, said yesterday that they already received the sworn statements of four out of 25 persons who have, so far, lodged complaints about the rice investment scam.
Charges for estafa are being readied against three female suspects that may be filed today or tomorrow, Baldovino said.
He said they are expecting more complainants after learning that the “investors” were given authority by the suspects to recruit more people to invest, just like in a pyramiding scam. About 100 people reportedly joined the investment scheme, he said.
Fifteen individuals have also reported to the Bacolod Police Station 2 that they were likewise victimized by a Bacoleña, who encouraged them to invest their money on rice and promised a percentage payout.
Some of the complainants are businessmen, and others are employees, or with online jobs.
Baldovino said the modus operandi of the suspects was to post on Facebook the rice investment offer, stating that investors will earn up to 300 percent of the money they had invested, depending on the duration of their investment.
“That’s already a red flag that it is a scam. The rate is too good to be true,” Baldovino said.
He said the suspects enticed and lured people into investing their money because of fantastic high returns.
Baldovino also said they have found out that the suspects are not authorized by the Securities and Exchange Commission to solicit investment from the public.
Although they have a business name registered at the Department of Trade and Industry, they still have no business permit, Baldovino said.
“We know that business name is not a license to engage in business,” he stressed.
The incident is considered large scale estafa because there are many victims, and the amount involved is huge, Baldovino said.
Based only on the sworn statements of the four complainants, they have already invested about P5 million, which they personally gave to the suspects, he said.
“Some of the victims, however, are still hesitant to file a case as they are still hoping that they can get back their money, which in most cases, do not usually happen,” Baldovino said.
He said some of the complainants received the first few payouts, but this is being used by the suspects to make the victims believe that the investment works and for them to recruit more people.
The public should be wary and be careful in using social media, such as Facebook, as this is being used by would-be scammers to recruit victims, Baldovino said, adding that if it is too good to be true, then don’t invest your hard-earned money.*