Catholic Church

Priest loses P27,000 to grateful ‘scammer’: ‘I gave everything to him’

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Priest loses P27,000 to grateful ‘scammer’: ‘I gave everything to him’
Father Yulito Ignacio, a renowned Filipino expert in the study of the Virgin Mary, gives his money to a supposed 'Palawan officer' who thanked him for healing his wife

To all men and women of faith, this is a warning: You might be next.

A 62-year-old priest from Manila lost P27,000 ($480) to a suspected scammer who posed as an “officer of Palawan” and thanked him for healing his wife.

Father Yulito Ignacio, a priest for nearly four decades, told Rappler he received the supposed Palawan officer in his room on January 18. 

Ignacio is a renowned Filipino Mariologist, which means an expert in the study of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who trained at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Born on January 4, 1962, and ordained a priest on September 19, 1987, he is currently assigned to Cardinal Sin’s Welcome Home, a retirement home for priests in Sampaloc, Manila.

According to Ignacio, the “officer of Palawan” was grateful because he (Ignacio) supposedly healed the tumor of the scammer’s wife. The man repeatedly mentioned Ignacio’s name and knew he came from San Carlos Seminary.

Ignacio said he indeed came from San Carlos and healed the sick during his 17 years there.

“He said his wife would arrive on Saturday bringing lobsters and four parrots from Palawan. Before he left, he showed me his back, which, he said, was being treated at PGH (Philippine General Hospital). He asked for P35,000 ($620) to pay for his PGH treatment and his wife’s ferry ticket so she can bring the lobsters and parrots,” Ignacio wrote in Filipino in a Facebook post dated Tuesday, January 23.

“My money, at that time, was P27,000. I gave everything to him. He was happy when he left,” Ignacio said.

Truth unraveled for Ignacio, however, after he later called a priest whom the man had name-dropped during their conversation. The other priest told Ignacio that the man had also visited him and “scammed” him as well.

“Let’s be careful with people like him who dress well but actually bring about scams,” Ignacio said. He told Rappler, however, that he “was not able to report it to the police.”

In the past, religious leaders or their churches had already been the targets of scams, disinformation, and even stolen identities on social media accounts.

It’s a reminder that all should be watchful because, to borrow the words of the Bible, a thief comes at a time when we least expect it. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com