A former OFW lost P8.29 million in a scam perpetrated by a man who introduced himself as an engineer and several other companions, GMA News' Jay Sabale reported on Balitanghali on Friday.
An entrapment operation conducted by the Quezon City Police District netted alleged scam mastermind Jonathan Asuncion, who introduced himself to victim Leonardo Austria as Engr. Luis de Guia.
The report said Asuncion, accompanied by a Japanese national, met with Austria last October to express interest in buying the piece of land the victim was selling.
Asuncion reportedly introduced the Japanese as a businessman who was looking for a supplier of tuna fish enzyme.
When Austria remembered a man he met weeks earlier who introduced himself as Vince and claimed to be a fish enxyme exporter, he decided to become the middleman between the two parties.
The report said Austria, at that time, was clueless that the two parties knew each other.
Austria invested P1 million in an initial shipment of 250 boxes from Vince and an additional 250 boxes when prompted by Asuncion.
The OFW paid an additional P3 million to acquire the boxes when Vince revealed that another customer had reserved the shipment.
"Ang ginawa ko, nagbayad ako ng three million na cash. Tapos, nagpunta ako ng bangko, nagpasunod ako ng P4.29 million. Tinawag ko na naman kay engineer, De Guia, sabi niya sir, i-finance mo muna, bibigyan kita ng financial percent, which is three percent, sabi niya. 'Di, sabi ko, misis kunin mo na yung time deposit mo na three million," Austria recalled.
On Asuncion's instructions, Austria deposited the amounts to the account of a certain Winifredo Adriano.
Asuncion called on the police for help when he lost track of where his money was invested and when he discovered that the boxes of fish enzymes he bought was full of flour.
When the case made the news, Adriano approached the QCPD - District Operations Unit to clear his name.
Adriano said he and Asuncion met in Laguna through a common friend who the suspect used as leverage to convince the former seaman to give him access to his bank account in addition to using a false story about his mother's hospitalization.
The suspect, arrested on Thursday evening, denied their accusations.
"'Di po totoo yun. 'Di ko po kilala. Basta't yun lang pong, nag-ano lang po kami ng sa bangko po. Hindi ko po kilala sila. Ako lang po at si Adriano ang kasama ko sa bangko," Asuncion said.
QCPD Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar urged the public to be cautious in accepting deals from people who offer instant money like Asuncion, who faces extortion in Quezon City and syndicated estafa in Bataan.
"Ang ating panawagan sa ating mga kababayan, magisip-isip tayo kung may nag-offer sa 'tin na yung pera natin ay kikita ng malaki pero ilalabas mo muna, magisip-isip muna tayo dun," Eleazar said. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News