GOTCHA!

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Jose Santino S. Bunachita November 22,2016 - 11:41 PM
 TUMULAK ROGuES’ GALLERY. Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak takes pictures of alleged ATM skimmers and pickpocket suspects (from left) Maria Camille Gliane, Hanna Conception (center) and Marlyn Roque after their arrest yesterday, Nov. 22, 2016, by the Mabolo police. (CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON)

TUMULAK ROGuES’ GALLERY. Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak takes pictures of alleged ATM skimmers and pickpocket suspects (from left) Maria Camille Gliane, Hanna Conception (center) and Marlyn Roque after their arrest yesterday, Nov. 22, 2016, by the Mabolo police. (CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON)

A woman, who was arrestedwith two others for pickpocketing inside a mall in Cebu City last Monday, turned out to be a suspect in the series of unauthorized withdrawals from automated teller machines (ATM).

Marlyn Roque, 42, and a native of Bulacan, was positively identified by at least four victims as the same person who allegedly defrauded them of a total of P299,300 in the ATM skimming scheme.

Police also arrested Roque’s two alleged cohorts — Ma. Camille Gliane, 46; and Hanna Conception, 32. Two male suspects eluded arrest.

Theft charges were filed yesterday against the three suspects before the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office for pickpocketing.

They will also face additional charges for violating Republic Act 8484 or the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998 in relation to the ATM scam.

The law prohibits obtaining money or anything of value through the use of an access device with intent to defraud or with intent to gain.

“There have been persons who came forward to file complaints against the suspects. There is nothing we can do but to file the appropriate charges against them,” said Senior Insp. Jacinto Mandal Jr., chief of the Mabolo Police Station.

Mandal believed Roque conspired with her two other companions to defraud people when they engaged in ATM skimming operations.

“They must be part of a syndicate. I believe other members of this group are still preying on people,” he said.

Cebu Daily News tried to get the reaction of the three suspects but they refused to issue any statement.

Roque, Gliane, and Conception were arrested by the Mabolo police last Monday for preying on a 46-year-old woman who was shopping inside Gaisano Country Mall in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City.

Liezel Mascariñas, a resident of Barangay Guizo, Mandaue City, said one of the suspects kept on bumping her while she was walking around the mall.

When she tried to get her wallet from the pocket of her pants, she realized it was gone.

Mascariñas immediately reported the incident to police officers on foot patrol outside the establishment.

The three suspects, who were renting a house in Barangay Basak, Lapu-Lapu City, were arrested while they were about to board a Toyota Innova parked at the mall’s parking lot.

Recovered from one of the suspects was Mascariñas’ wallet which contained two credit cards and P1,000 in cash.

Twice a victim

It was the second time Mascariñas fell victim to the same suspects.

Last Nov. 17, she also lost her wallet which contained a credit card, two Metrobank ATM cards, identification cards, and cash amounting to P50,000.

The incident was captured by the mall’s closed-circuit television (CCTV), which the police obtained through the cooperation of the mall management.

It showed the same three women using the “bumping” modus in their pickpocketing operation.

Soon after she lost her credit card, Mascariñas found out that a total of P87,000 in purchases was charged to her card.

Mascariñas, later on Nov. 17, reported the theft to the Mabolo police, which immediately sent/alerted policemen on the mall premises. They were the same policemen who caught the three women yesterday.

Upon learning about the arrest of the three women, three other victims of the ATM scam in Cebu City went to see the suspects at the Mabolo Police Station yesterday.

A 48-year-old female employee of a university in Cebu City was the first to arrive at the police station at around 9 a.m.

She requested the police officers to show her the three suspects for her to see whether or not one of them was the same person who duped her. She immediately recognized Roque.

“Nanlimbawot ang akong balhibo pagkakita nako niya. Sigurado kaayo ko nga siya ang nangilad nako samtang magkuha unta ko og kuwarta sa akong ATM. (I had goosebumps when I saw her. I am certain she was the same person who duped me when I was about to get money from the ATM),” she said.

The complainant, who requested anonymity, said she was supposed to withdraw cash from an ATM at Metro Gaisano Ayala in Cebu City at around 4 p.m. on August 6 when her ATM card got stuck inside the machine.

She said Roque approached her and claimed her ATM card was also stuck in the same machine. Roque then advised her to get help from a mall guard.

The victim said she went to find a guard and reported the incident, after which she quickly returned to the ATM hoping her card had been ejected.

When she got back, she said Roque was still standing near the ATM and advised her to press her pin number.

“I didn’t know what to do because I was afraid I won’t be able to get my ATM card and so I heeded her advise,” the complainant said.

When she still wasn’t able to get her ATM card after an hour, the victim said she decided to go home and reported the incident to her bank. But her bank informed her that P34,900 had been withdrawn from her account.

The same modus

When she saw Roque at the police station yesterday, the victim flew into a rage and said: “Gaga ka. Nangawat mo og kuwarta nga dili inyo. Dili mo mauwaw? (You are stupid. You stole money which is not yours. Are you not ashamed of yourself)?” she said.

Another victim, a 68-year-old retired soldier, also got angry the moment he saw and recognized Roque as the ATM skimmer who stole P28,300 from his account.

“Mas maayo pa mapatay ni inig gawas ani sa prisohan (I hope they get killed when they are released from jail),” he said.

He said he was about to get cash from an ATM along Escario Street in Cebu City last July 17 when it also got stuck and Roque came along supposed to help him by advising him to enter his pin number. “I made sure she won’t see (the pin) but I think she still managed to get the numbers,” he said in Cebuano.

A government employee in Cebu City, who lost P100,000 to skimming, said she was making a withdrawal at the I.T. Park last August when her card also got stuck and heeded Roque’s advise to reenter her pin number.

“I think they placed a device on the ATM so that it won’t release cash,” she said.

The victims never got their ATM cards or their money back.

Mandal said he coordinated with the Theft and Robbery Section of the Cebu City Police Office to conduct a deeper investigation into the likelihood that the ATM scam is the handiwork of a syndicate.

“I urged other victims of the ATM scam to come before our office to identify the suspects,” he said.

Cooperation needed

At least 13 persons, including Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, have fallen victims to ATM scams in the cities of Cebu and Naga and lost a total of P3 million.

Tumulak yesterday rushed to the Mabolo Police Station upon learning about the suspects’ arrest but said the person who defrauded him was not among them.

A man who looks like a foreigner is now being hunted by the police as the likely suspect in the ATM scam that victimized Tumulak.

Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said they need the cooperation of all sectors to address the problem on ATM skimming.

“The police can only do so much. We need the cooperation of all stakeholders,” he said.

Taliño said one bank, which he did not identify, has asked the police to help find the ATM scam suspects.

“I directed the city and provincial police directors to coordinate with bank managers and their security officers to address the problem,” Taliño said.

Banks’ responsibility

Tumulak also asked law enforcement agencies to widen their investigation on the number of ATM scams in Cebu city and province and for banks to look into possible internal security systems breach.

“They have to investigate. There is always an open possibility because we haven’t arrested other possible suspects and there are some angles we need to consider,” he said yesterday.

Until now, he lamented that banks in the city have remained uncooperative especially in showing actual skimming devices which can be attached on their ATMs.

System’s breach is also possible, he added.

“They have to investigate this, including the technical personnel that are checking and opening the ATMs,” he said.

Tumulak, who is also the city’s deputy mayor for police matters, is among those victimized by the illegal withdrawals from his ATM account with Land Bank of the Philippines, which contains his salary from the city government.

Tumulak said he had initially thought that foreigners were the one involved in the ATM scam and was alarmed that three Filipino women from Manila and living in Lapu-Lapu City were also arrested for ATM skimming operation.

“We see now that not only foreign nationals are involved in shenanigans in Cebu City, even our own countrymen. This is alarming because there are those caught and there are still those not caught,” he said.

He also urged the Cebu Bankers Club to coordinate with the police investigations, expressing concern that this scam represents a big problem in the local banking industry, with depositors no longer trusting their banks.

Banks should put up advisories of possible skimming devices on their websites and their social media accounts, Tumulak said.

He added that they should also inform depositors through text of withdrawals that are more than P5,000 and that ATMs should be checked daily, if not hourly.

“This issue of skimming has been there a long time already. But until now, we haven’t seen a physical form of that device. It’s our rights being depositors to be protected by the bank,” he added.

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TAGS: ATM, ATM scam, ATM skimming, automated teller machine, bank, Basak, Cebu, Cebu City, Dave Tumulak, Lapu-Lapu City, syndicate, theft

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