Investment scam strikes again, victimizes 6 persons in Cebu

By: Alven Marie A. Timtim August 13,2019 - 05:09 PM

The victims of Facebook-based investment scams (their backs to the camera) ask the help of the Regional Anti-cybercrime Group in Central Visayas (RACG-7) on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, to locate and arrest the operators of the scam. |CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

CEBU CITY, Philippines —  Despite recent massive government drive against investment scams, it continue to proliferate, this time victimizing at least six persons in Cebu.

The six victims sought the help of the Regional Anti-cybercrime Group in Central Visayas (RACG-7) on Monday, August 12, 2019, claiming that they have been scammed in separate “double-your-money” schemes by operators who promoted their so-called investment companies on Facebook.

Two of the victims, Marimar and Julia (not their real names), presented to RACG-7 documents that identified a certain Ailen Villazar as the alleged of operator of “Phoenix Trading” who claimed that the money they invested would be forwarded to a  “foreign exchange (Forex) market” player-businessman identified as a “Joseph San Jose,” who supposedly handled investments made through Phoenix.

Marimar and Julia were among four victims of Phoenix Trading who went to RACG-7 on Tuesday.  The two others, however, declined to be interviews.

Marimar and Julia, when interviewed by CDN Digital, admitted that they have not met Villazar and San Jose in person and all transactions were done online, primarily on Facebook.

Marimar told the authorities that she first checked on the Facebook page of Phoenix Trading after hearing from a friend that after investing in the company, there was a guarantee a 100-percent profit after 15 days.

Marimar said she had planned to invest her money on the foreign exchange market herself but when she read on the Facebook page of Phoenix Trading that its investors have received payouts within two weeks, she decide to invest.

After receiving her first payout last July, Marimar said she doubled the money she invested and invited her relatives to place their money on Phoenix as well.

Phoenix Trading also offered  a two-day promotion of doubling the money investment after seven days in the same month. However, when Marimar and her relatives had given their money, the Facebook site suddenly disappeared and they could no longer contact Villazar.

(A check on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 13, 2019,  showed that a “Phoenix Trading” page still exists but its comment section has been disabled and its messenger is unresponsive. It described itself as an “internet company” that “offers a 100% automated done-for-you Forex managed trading service. Our Managed Account Service offers results that are 100% verifiable and audited by renowned 3rd party provider Myfxbook.”)

Screenshot of the ‘Phoenix Trading’ Facebook page

Julia, on the other hand, revealed to CDN Digital that she invested a total of P462,000 on  Phoenix Trading and received a payouts on her initial investment after 15 days. But like Marimar, she no longer received another amount after her first payout.

The two victims claimed that a week after they  failed to contact Villazar, the latter suddenly contacted them, claiming she was a victim of San Jose, who she claimed was  arrested for engaging in an investment scam.

They claimed that Villazar then insisted that in order to regain their investments, the two women had to make fresh investments to be once again ‘invested’ in the forex market.  The two women refused to make fresh investments.

Another victim of a different investment company was Julius (not his real name) from Mandaue City who was able to invest at least P60,000 to “Positive Life Times 2” operated by a certain Karen Tan, also on Facebook.

Julius went to RACG-7 on Monday with another victim of Positive Life but the other declined to be interviewed.

Julius said  Tan promised that the money he invested would be doubled in six days. When Tan started blocking Julius and the other victims, one was able to trace the Facebook account of Tan and discovered her real name, a woman  who was just from Cebu, as well.

Julius said they wanted the authorities to immediately catch Tan, especially now that they know who she is and where she lives.

Police Staff Sergeant Henry Abatayo of RACG-7 said they discovered that some of the victims transacted their investments through bank and online money transfer and were now coordinating with the companies mentioned by the victims. /elb

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