OFW loses P600,000 in Facebook romance scam

Rambo Talabong
OFW loses P600,000 in Facebook romance scam
For an overseas Filipino worker, what started as infatuation on Facebook ended with extortion

MANILA, Philippines – An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) learned the hard way that love can result in so much loss when it does not work out.

Over P600,000 was taken from a 23-year-old seaman when he fell in love with someone through Facebook and later learned the relationship he was in was a scam.

From June 2017 to September 2018, “Francis” (not his real name) was sending money to his fake paramour, hoping to meet her once he came home. When he finally docked in the Philippines, however, he only faced extortion.

On Monday, October 1, police from the Anti-Cybercrime group told reporters of the seaman’s love story that turned into a costly tragedy.

Boy meets girl online: In June 2017, the seaman met a certain Joana Mae Cruz on Facebook, and started developing feelings for her.

He fell in love with Cruz so much that he gave in to her demands, even when it involved sending money.

The cash, Cruz told the OFW through chat, was needed for her tuition fees, gifts, and personal needs.

This relationship went on until, on September 5, 2018, “Francis” came home from abroad and wanted to finally see Cruz in person. Cruz kept on making excuses to avoid meeting him, with the most recent being that she was in Tacloban.

The heartbreak came on September 8, when the OFW found out that Joana Mae Cruz was a sham – a fake Facebook profile. The scammer behind it, 21-year-old Angelica Miguel, confessed to him of her misdeed.

The other woman: The photos to build the fake account were not pulled out of thin air. Miguel used the photos of a certain 20-year-old – Angelica Calanog – without her permission.

For Calanog, meanwhile, scammer Angelica Miguel posed as the leader of her supposed fans on Facebook. Miguel sent gifts, flowers, and clothes to Calanog, and has even gone to her house in Quezon City for the offerings.

When asked by Angelica Calanog’s mother where the gifts came from, Miguel said she has a “cousin abroad working as a seaman attracted to her daughter.”

All this happened while Calanog was clueless that a Facebook profile constructed with her photos was used to extort money from an OFW.

The date: Once she admitted to scamming the OFW, Miguel demanded P26,000 from him or “something bad will happen” to Calanog – the real girl he fell in love with.

Police said “Francis” happened to care for Calanog without meeting her, so he obliged to the demand.

He agreed to meet up with Miguel at McDonald’s in Ever Gotesco Mall along Commonwealth for the exchange. There, at 10 am of September 11, undercover cops accompanied “Francis,” and as soon as he handed marked money to Miguel, cops broke cover and arrested her.

BUSTED. Angelica Miguel (R) is arrested by police Anti-Cybercrime Group operatives. PNP ACG photo

A second group of 6 other suspects, alleged cohorts of Miguel, were also expecting to receive extortion money inside the Jollibee branch along Commonwealth Avenue. They were arrested by cops too after “Francis” handed marked money.

Miguel and her alleged company now face complaints for their alleged violation of Article 293 (Robbery), 315 (Swindling/Estafa), 318 (Other deceits) of the Revised Penal Code, and Republic Act 10175 for identity theft. – Rappler.com

(An earlier version of this report carried the real name of the victim OFW, as announced by the police. We have removed it upon the request of his family. – Editor) 

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

author

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.