Church lector in alleged P130-M Ponzi scheme scam falls

MANILA Authorities cautioned the public anew against get-rich-quick investment scams and presented to the media a church lector, whose Quezon City-based group allegedly conned victims of at least PHP130 million in a Ponzi-scheme modus operandi.

"We again want to warn the public against investments that are too good to be true," Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said Monday during a press conference in Camp Crame.

Ponzi scheme is a shady investing scam that promises high rates of return. It generates returns for older investors by acquiring new investors and is similar to pyramiding scheme in that both are based on using new investors' funds to pay the earlier backers.

Victims who appeared before the PNP headquarters said primary suspect, Margarita Huang, victimized aged retirees and desperate persons seeking to double funds earmarked for their chemotherapy sessions.

Huang required an initial investment of no less than PHP250,000 from her victims and promised a monthly return of anywhere between 4 to 15 percent per month. The scam operated mostly in Quezon City.

Operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Anti-Fraud and Commercial Crimes Unit arrested Huang at SMDC Grass Residences, Tower 3 in Barangay Sto. Cristo, Quezon City on Thursday, May 24, on the strength of three warrants of arrest for 12 counts of estafa.

Huang, who also goes by the names "Margie", "Marita" or "Irma Pascual" together with her husband, Gary Chen Huang, daughter Nicole, son Conrad and their secretary Marivic Ifurung, allegedly defrauded hundreds of victims, police said.

The suspects zero in on their circle of friends and parishes to entice them to invest in a lending facility they supposedly operating with a large employee cooperative under Comfoods Inc.

Police said the Huangs claimed to be alleged co-partners in the programs of the food firm to assist employees from becoming victims of loan-sharks.

Police said Comfoods, Inc. belied the lending programs presented by the suspects.

In 2015, the suspects started to evade their investors and went into hiding after failing to pay their promised obligations.

All suspects were charged with syndicated estafa but Gary, Conrad, and Ifurung posted cash bail bonds for their temporary liberty in 2017. Nicole went into hiding in New Zealand. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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