Money isn’t the root of all evil
posted 26-Jun-2019  ·  
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For more than a week now, various news media have been filled with accounts of the government’s crackdown on the Kapa-Community Ministry International, Inc. (KAPA), a Mindanao-based religious group that encouraged members to donate at least P10,000 in return for monthly “blessings” of 30 percent for life.

With no less than Pres. Rodrigo Duterte giving the order, the authorities are combing the country looking for assets of the group as well as its top officials.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also raided the offices of five more companies engaged in similar investment scams: Rigen Marketing and Ever Arm Any Marketing, both in Tagum City; Ada Farm Agri Ventures in Mandaue City, Cebu; Organico Agribusiness Ventures in Cebu City, Bohol, Tacloban City, Davao City, and Butuan City; and, Alabel-Maasim Small Scale Mining Cooperative/Alabel-Maasim Credit Cooperative in Alabel, General Santos City, and Koronadal City.

All six groups targeted victims with promises of high returns on their money at little or no risk, using the pyramiding or Ponzi scheme in which funds from new investors are used to pay old investors. New investors have to be constantly recruited to sustain the payouts, otherwise the fund is depleted and the payouts end.

The reading public would perhaps remember that in 2017, Virac Mayor Samuel Laynes asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to help conduct a thorough probe of an alleged pyramiding scheme which has reportedly victimized at least 23 people of their hard-earned money through a facebook-based “paluwagan” scheme.

The suspects were identified as Maria Lourdes Vargas Santos, 28, of Buyo, and her live-in partner, Alvin Bernardino, 50, reportedly a close relative of former Governor Araceli Bernardino-Wong who had previously engaged in the buying and selling of live lobster, seaweed and other marine resources in Rawis.

Another woman, Lenie Vargas, was identified as Santos’ secretary and it was in her name that the alleged scammers’ front company, LL Marketing was registered as a manufacturer of personalized T-shirts with a capitalization of P20,000.

Overseas Filipino workers were the first to be attracted by the “on-line paluwagan” dubbed as “Team Buyo Complan” marketed on facebook.

The catchy advertisement on Vargas’ facebook page promised to turn a P2,000.00 investment into P8,000.00, P6,000.00 to P20,000.00, and P10,000 into P35,000.00, within just a matter of weeks.

Despite a complaint allegedly filed by some of the victims with the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office, nothing has been heard on the fate of the suspects as well as the victims’ attempts to recover their money.

For years now, the government has been warning the public to be wary of anyone offering high or fantastic earnings on investments or business opportunities.

And for years now, the public has been as gullible as ever, refusing to ask questions to protect themselves and their money. Blinded by the promised returns or “blessings” as they are now called, they close their eyes and minds to the reality that an investment scheme that sounds too good to be true is most likely a fraud.

The situation has been made worse by social media and the Internet in general, which has presented lots of opportunities for financial criminals.

Social media, and facebook in particular, lets fraudsters contact many different people at a low cost. It is very easy to create a site, account, email, direct message, or webpage that looks and feels legitimate. The very fact that it is difficult to identify or even track down the true account holders makes it hard for authorities as well as the victims to hold the fraudsters accountable.

In these season of scams, whether be it financial or political, let us remember that it is far more satisfying to earn money by the sweat on our brows.

And always keep in your mind and in your heart that money isn’t the root of all evil. Greed is.

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