After Aman Futures Group, another scammer in Mindanao?

MANILA, Philippines - The police entrapped another company allegedly engaged in a pyramid scam in Mindanao.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the police on Monday, November 19, recovered marked money of P30,000 and 5 firearms from the office of Visioner 20/20 International Trading Inc. in Pagadian City.   

She said the company, which promised a 20% to 30% interest rate to investors, managed to dupe about 20-30 victims, mostly Maranaws in Lanao del Sur.

De Lima said the police arrested a certain Glenda Andagan in the entrapment operation. 

Prior to Visioner, the Department of Justice also received complaints against two other firms - Aman Futures Group and Coco Rasuman - which employed the same get-rich-quick schemes.

The Aman Futures Group allegedly duped around 15,000 people in the Visayas and Mindanao by promising them a return rate of 30% to 60% on their investments. The Rasuman Group, on the other hand, offered a return rate of up to 70%.

De Lima said the Bureau of Immigration has traced the whereabouts of some of the officers of Aman Futures Group. The BI has placed 38 officers of the company in a travel bulletin on November 15, a day after the group's founder Aman Manuel Amalilio, or Mohammad Suffian Saaid, left for Sabah, Malaysia.

Lessons not learned

Thousands of Filipinos have fallen prey to similar scams in the past. 

The conviction of one of those who previously implemented a similar scam has been upheld by the Court of Appeals in 2012. The CA sentenced "Queen of Pyramiding" Rosario "Rose" Baladjay  to 4- 20 years in prison, a higher penalty from the one meted out by the Makati regional trial court to her in 2009. The lower court sentenced her to up to 12 years in prison. 

In 1998, Baladjay duped hundreds of people into investing in the Multinational Telecom Investors Corp by promising a monthly 4% to 15% interest rate and using a double-your-money scheme. Multitel used counselors to encourage people to invest; the counselors earned 1% to 20% in commission for every investor recruited.

Baladjay told the recruits their investments would go to "Benefon," a telecommunications firm in Finland. The pyramid scam crashed in 2002, however, after the number of recruits dropped. Baladjay reportedly got P20 million from victims.

One of those who had worked for Baladjay in Multitel then started his own scam. Cyrus Yap Hao established the Royal Manchester Five company, which dangled P3 million and a house to entice investors. He said investments will be placed in foreign currencies.  

Hao swindled P2 billion out of hundreds of investors. He now faces an estafa case at the Quezon City regional trial court. 

Celso de Los Angeles - who allegedly operated the Legacy insurance and pension scam - died in March 2012 even before he faced the courts for charges of multipled syndicated estafa. De los Angeles owned the Legacy group, which operated 13 rural banks in Visayas. The group amassed money from depositors then reportedly used them to fund his corporations.

The banks eventually collapsed and had total liabilities of P24 billion. With De Los Angeles's death, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said it will pursue cases of estafa against his business partners instead. - Rappler.com