Scams victimizing OFWs

By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas

“Then after a few months, the whole Ponzi scheme collapses and the investors would be uselessly crying their hearts out. While the schemers would be laughing on their way to the bank abroad.”

I know I had committed to write on some subject matters, but this one is urgent. So things have to be postponed.
There is an ongoing scam in Baguio City victimizing OFWs. This one has been going on for years already but the scammer had a new corporate name– as in same dog with a different collar.
The main person behind it is a woman. She has the gumption to represent herself or her associates as the developers of housing projects. Once a victim sees the structures on site, she then asks for a downpayment to the tune of several hundred thousand pesos. One victim even handed a downpayment of one million pesos as she fell in love with a house under construction on a nice location. The problem was, the woman who received the money was not the developer, nor the owner of the property, nor was she in anyway connected with the owner or the developer. She was a swindler.
The scam is ongoing. Why the scammer is still in her dirty business instead of being behind bars can only be gleaned from the statement “only in the Philippines.”
First reason why her scam continues is, the woman is quite adept in wearing different collars. It is very easy to come up with a new corporation or a corporate identity here in our beloved country and she has been taking advantage of this…… again and again.
Second reason is the gullibility of supposed buyers. Most of the victims had been OFWs or those who had spent a long time abroad and they thought that people here are relatively honest. But it is the opposite. One has to make sure that all the pertinent documents regarding a property are legit before putting up a downpayment no matter how measly.
Thirdly, so many OFWs after working very hard abroad are just too excited to buy a house and lot and this makes them emotional (not rational) in coming up with a decision. Once shown a beautiful house, an OFW would immediately give a downpayment without even seeing a single piece of paper showing that the seller is the owner of the property or the authorized representative of a realty company or the developer.
So, how to avoid being the next victim?
The first thing to do is to get in touch with a lawyer that you can trust. Then retain him to investigate the papers of the property and the rightful owners thereof. Often times buyers just don’t like to pay the fees of a lawyer and often times such people end up holding the proverbial empty bag. I once, charged an OFW ten thousand pesos to investigate what she intended to buy and I accomplished the same in a day. While her transaction ended well, I had that feeling that she thought my fee was quite high. No, my dear OFW. Pay well your trusted lawyer and most probably you will end up OK.
Other scams are still ongoing. While they come in all sorts of shapes and colors, their come on are always the same, big returns or profits in so short a time. The reason these scams continue is due to greed of supposed investors. They put up a hundred thousand of investment and they expect to be paid fifteen thousand pesos a month. There is always of course the “pakagat” to make victims believe in the scheme. They pay the supposed profits for the first few months which often seduces the victim to invest more, even to the extent of selling lots. Others would even convince their siblings or relatives or friends to invest because there would be a commission.
Then after a few months, the whole Ponzi scheme collapses and the investors would be uselessly crying their hearts out. As to the schemers, they would be laughing on their way to the bank abroad.
If you had been reading us in the past years, we had been exposing such scams. And we had been saying that if a proposal sounds too good to be true, it is not true.
Just be contented with your hard earned money and you will be fine.
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