CEBU, Philippines — The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-7 raided offices of two alleged investment scam companies in Cebu City and Mandaue City yesterday.
The operation came two days after President Rodrigo Duterte gave the directive to axe pyramiding companies out of business.
At around 9 a.m., CIDG-7 Metro Cebu chief, Police Major Niño Briones, led the service of a search warrant at the office of Organico Agri-Business Corporation on Pope John Paul Avenue in Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City.
The search warrant was issued by the Regional Trial Court 20 in Makati City for alleged violation of Section 8.1 in relation to Section 7 of Republic Act 8799 or The Securities Regulation Code.
“Wala silang tamang lisensya para magbenta ng securities or license to engage in selling securities (They did not have a license to sell securities or engage in selling securities),” Briones said.
Authorities, however, arrived at an empty office with but a few computer sets and documents strewn around.
“May computers na pinagbabaklas na and documents na nagkalat, and they attempted to vacate the building. Posibleng nakarinig, baka nakakuha ng information (There were computers that were unplugged and documents were all over the place. They must have received a tip about the raid and vacated the building),” Briones said.
CIDG-7 and the PNP’s cybercrime group will check the computers.
Organico is reportedly owned by a certain Cerrone Posas who is from Ormoc City.
Meanwhile, about 30 minutes into the raid at the Organico headquarters, a separate team led by CIDG-7 chief Lito Patay raided the headquarters of Ada Farm Agriventures on MC Briones Highway in Mandaue City.
Police confiscated drafts of contracts, receipts, computers, logbooks, bankbooks, checkbooks, documents and other gadgets.
Like at Organico, no one was arrested at Ada Farm.
Lester Bautista, a Securities Specialist from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Manila, said the two companies are considered as investment scams for selling, unlicensed securities under the cover of selling livestock.
Based on SEC’s investigation, which started in 2018, Organico started selling piglets as investments even when its farms were not yet operational. The company reportedly only had 50 piglets at its farms.
“May investment contract silang ino-offer… they are offering it through social media. It is considered as a scam because they are selling piglets as a front yet illegally selling securities,” Bautista said.
An investor would reportedly buy one piglet for P3,600 and would get P6,000 after 90 days.
On the other hand, Ada Farm, reportedly owned by a certain Adrian Dominic Ang, investors were enticed to buy a chick for P500. In return, the investor would get P1,800 after two months for every chick bought.
CIDG-7 urges the investors to file official complaints against Organico and Ada for estafa.
“Matagal na itong problema but the public does not learn their lesson; naghihintay sa investment. Alam naman natin, when it is too good to be true, it is not true (This has been a long standing problem and investors have not learned their lesson. We all know that if it’s too good to be true, it’s not true),” Briones said.
The other day, authorities raided what used to be the headquarters of controversial investment group KAPA Community Ministry International in Compostela, Cebu.
The raid was carried out by virtue of a search warrant the court issued against Kapa founder Joel Apolinario and area manager, Engr. Christopher Abad.
KAPA is allegedly a bogus religious organization.
The Compostela office was set on fire by still unidentified suspects dawn on June 8 but personnel from the National Bureau of Investigation, Regional Special Operations Group 7 (RSOG), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) still managed to retrieve documents.
Among the documents they retrieved were application forms, payout documents, ledgers, journals, and books containing records of transactions. They also retrieved computer units and tarpaulins.
Yesterday, the NBI said charges of large-scale estafa and syndicated estafa will be filed against the KAPA leaders.
Antonio Pagatpat, NBI deputy director for regional operation services, said the bureau “managed to infiltrate the organization when some of their agents became members and learned that the group was really not really conducting religious activities.”
“All they do is sign documents and receive money from members in the form of donations and the members in return receive 30 percent interest, which they call blessings,” Pagatpat said.
Apolinario and his members have no secondary license to accept investment, which makes them liable for the violation of the SEC regulation code, he added.
“This is a ponzi scheme at its best and this is the biggest ever in the country. The President (Duterte) stepped in to protect the last line of investors who will suffer the brunt when the money had been siphoned and there is not enough to pay for their interest,” Pagatapat said.
Authorities are coordinating with the Bureau of Immigration to locate Apolinario whom they believe was preparing to leave after declaring that “the church” will be having a seven-day holiday.
Two years ago, Apolinario was charged with estafa, a bailable offense, but managed to wiggle free and allegedly “fix” the complainants. – With Philippine Star News Service