Quantcast
pork barrel

Dark days ahead at investment scam ‘ground zero’



PAGADIAN CITY—Just two months ago, the small Internet café in San Pedro village here, a kilometer from the abandoned office of Aman Futures Group Phils. Inc., was bustling with life, with customers keeping its 10 computer units humming.

Today, the cubicles are empty and the business seemingly doomed, no thanks to the Aman Futures pyramid scam that sucked the savings of this city’s residents.

“I am folding up by December if business does not pick up,” said the café’s owner Andres who, like most people interviewed on the scam, preferred to be identified only by their first name. “I am bleeding from the electricity and rental costs,” he said tearfully.

Since the investment scheme went bust, Andres said very few have come to his Internet shop to play online games, do research and print documents.

 

Ground zero

Most of his regular customers are from Barangay Kawit, ground zero of the pyramiding scam that also victimized his family.

“My losses may be small compared to the others, but it was a fortune for [us],” said Andres who recounted how, on Sept. 5, he plunked down close to P200,000 on a 20-day placement with Aman Futures because of “a guaranteed 62-percent return.”

Because of processing delays, he was unable to get the promised cash on Sept. 25. When he returned on the afternoon of the following day, Aman Futures had declared that it had “stopped [all] transactions” because its business permit from the local government was not renewed.

Gone was the P200,000 fund Andres had pooled from his family’s savings, from friends and other family members.

“My savings could have gone to renovating another rented space where my wife and I plan to set up a small cafeteria,” Andres lamented. “We wanted to open another business before the year ends,” he added, shaking his head.

Took his chances

“From the start, I knew it was a scam and bound to burst like a bubble, but I took my chances,” explained the business administration graduate.

“For those of us who have simple hopes and limited means, the idea of hitting [the big] time … is very attractive. It was just unfortunate that we came in late,” Andres added.

In Barangay Kawit, life has returned to normal, according to residents.

Motorcabs and bikes are back on the paved barangay road where, just a few months back, flashy cars and SUVs sporting “for registration” plates cruised leisurely.

Mixed tales

Kawit, a community of more than 6,000 people with large pockets of urban poor settlers, has mixed tales about Aman Futures.

Some folks became millionaires overnight, while others, who similarly got the chance to pocket millions, lost everything in a flash.  These included middle-class families who sold their properties, lured by the prospect of instant and spectacular wealth.

“We got tempted; who wouldn’t?” several Kawit residents said philosophically.

One of them laughed off the misfortune: “At least some people were able to hold that much money, if only for a while.”

But others are not as buoyant, weighed down by their loss.

Two months after the scam unraveled, Linda admitted to worrying about her problem even in school.

“It still hurts,” said this public school teacher. “Instead of earning money, we have nothing now,” she added.

13th-month pay

Linda’s friend, Sheila, a government employee, said she borrowed her expected bonus and 13th-month pay in advance to invest with Aman Futures without her husband’s knowledge.

“Now I’m left with a huge debt and face the new year with a reduced pay for nothing,” she added.

A few folk, among them motorcab driver Carmelo, managed to hit pay dirt before the investment scheme collapsed.  Carmelo’s dilapidated shack has been replaced by a concrete house, thanks to Aman Futures.

“When I learned of the scheme, I was immediately attracted, and just ignored issues about it,” he said.

But with the scam getting all the hype, Carmelo said he felt for the others who lost their money and remained hopeful that Aman Futures “can [recover] and help more poor people.”

Not far from Carmelo’s new home is another concrete house, now deserted. Its owners had sold it and used the proceeds to invest in Aman Futures in mid-September.

Neighbors said the deserted house was a stark illustration of how the investment scam had turned their fortunes around. Ryan D. Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao


Follow Us




Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Aman Futures Group Phils. Inc , investment scam , Pagadian City


  • monATmex

    if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. yes the scammers were the main culprit but the the victims were not too far behind. greed was the underlying problem here.

    • andresa igbac

       if it’s too good to be true, it probably is—ano kamo?

      • monATmex

        yun po ay isang kasabihan sa wikang ingles na kadalasang ginagamit sa economics, pag ang tinutukoy ay mga scammers. ang ibig pong sabihin ay pag ang ipinapangako ay mukhang imposible ay malamang na imposible nga.

      • isellnuts

         Ayan, tinagalog na para maintindihan mo na.

  • andresa igbac

    the people should’ve just invested in a cooperative

    • Horst Manure

      What to stupid an idea …no one would go for some thing that will work and give you a return over many years …. they would not trust the people setting it up.
        Nothing repeats like history.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QN7WRG7OA6LJLXUCQDHTXU2HSQ Adri Tion

    No doubt the scammers should pay the price and go to prison.  However…all of those who invested in this scam also deserve what they got… the price of greed!  Look it up in the Bible!
    I feel sorry for you but this just an expensive lesson that I hope everyone will learn from!

  • huseng_batute

    “From the start, I knew it was a scam and bound to burst like a
    bubble, but I took my chances,” explained the business administration
    graduate.

    “For those of us who have simple hopes and limited means, the
    idea of hitting [the big] time … is very attractive. It was just
    unfortunate that we came in late,” Andres added.

    You knew from the start that its a scam and its not sustainable but you still went for it.   You knew that you will also be scamming your downlines.   A well-deserved fate.

    Kung pinahalagahan mo lang sana ang kapakanan ng ibang tao, hindi ka magkakaganyan.
     

    • monATmex

      amen!

  • Adrian Espiritu

    Laging nasa huli ang pagsisisi.
    Sa Misa lang talaga nasa una ang pagsisisi.

  • $23228448

    a fool and their money are soon parted……

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EAUFRN6E4JJ67TDR25KRGR3DFE Zen

    if you knew it’s a scam, aren’t you a scammer too? you know you’ll get paid from the money of people coming in late. it has the shade of someone buying a stolen Rolex, and knowing it’s stolen from someone. it may be not illegal (within the bounds of law),but surely unethical. you don’t deserve our pity.

  • Simon Ward

    My pity bubble just burst!!! Andres has nothing to complain about. He needs to look in the mirror and punch himself on the nose.

    • divictes

      Poor Undressed…

  • RNKR2005

    People lost literally everything they had and then some. It’s so easy for us to blame them for their greed because we are far from their situation.  They are helpless, many earning barely enough for a daily living.  I’m sure the majority of them wouldn’t know what a scam is even if it’s painted in front of a bus and hits them squarely on the face.  But it wouldn’t hurt us to show a little compassion and do away with any negative remarks towards the victims.  Remember, even the intelligent and affluent in exclusive subdivisions were scammed several months ago, so do not assume that every one of us here will be able to resist the promise of quick money.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EDXEVEFHW2ZT5VWHDWBNM6XGE4 RyanE

    Unbelievable!.. for a business administration graduate to have knowingly participated in this scam, how much more for ordinary folks?

    • huseng_batute

       In his case it’s greed, not stupidity.

  • $14334231

    there are two sides on this story that most who were not involved feels:  pity and abhor to those scammed….fools rushed in to make quick money…and some did….others followed suit because it is our customs (i guess) to earn quick money wiithout dropping a single sweat…. my feelings????…i’ll just keep it to myself…..lesson learned….save money in a bank for your rainy season…..

  • nizgoda

    i was scammed  . . .  by my cousin!

  • Horst Manure

    Nothing repeats like history..stand by for the next one..

    Bernie Made Off go off with a few billion and will be out of jail in  170 yrs time to try again..this is the Fillo version.

  • DaniloD2D

    A government agency says that as early as last July it had already issued a “warning.”  That’s it?  What kind of a response was that?  If it already had serious misgivings at that time, why in heaven’s name did it not act more determinedly?  With all its wide regulatory and enforcement powers, the government should have instead initiated an investigation right then and there, and meanwhile stopped the whole thing.  The government surely knows that there are always people who will be people, especially when it comes to double-your-money schemes.  These individuals, because of either greed or desperation, or both, will not heed such warnings, until it’s too late.  Thus, the government officials concerned cannot now simply shift the blame and proclaim: “see, we told you so.”  They should be more proactive.  That’s why they’re there.

  • poltergeist_fuhrer

    there is other way of getting SURE money…earning money…that is THROUGH SWEAT!!!!…

    this is a realization that filipinos are:

    1. GREEDY (want instant and easy)
    2. TAMAD
    3. believing in SWERTE and MALAS
    4. life is like a GULONG (gulong ng palad mentality)

    NEVER PUT YOUR LUCK INTO OTHERS HANDS…

    IT MUST BE YOUR OWN MAKING!!!

    • TGM_ERICK

      Correct! A million likes! Greed is a sin and it begets bad luck.

  • $18209031

    Mga kayumangmangs, panahon na mag luto kayo ng pinakbet at magdadasal kay Santo Calungsod para mabalik ang suerte nyo !! Dios ko santisima , masyadong overtrusting mga ugali lalo na pinapakain kayo sa kapwang Malayo Kayumangmang para sasali sa itong investment scam. Lumang tugtugin itong mga katarantaduhan , bakit naman kayo hindi nag iisip ? Hakub kasi mga unggok na ito akala easy money at tutuo. It is all deceit and false witness , gaya sinabi sa NEw Testamanet. Test the spirits and you will know they are not of the Lord , ang sabi pa nga. If its too good to be true, hindi yan tutuo. Niloko lang kayo . AYan , parang nawalaan kayo ng atay, heheheheh.

  • $18209031

    Tandaan ninyo yan. ito ay ang Bernard Madoff in Philippine history. Marami pang padadarating !

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667021926 Millie Morales

    Always remember this, there is no such thing as “easy money”. You will always pay a price.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WN5TKEXEJ2VHQVNGP2CJEDLJH4 Jess

    NAPAKATAGAL NANG NANGYAYARI ANG PYAMIDING SCAM NA YAN. I REMEMBER NAGSIMULA YAN SA BUTUAN CITY, LATE 80′S OR EARLY 90′S NUNG PUMUTOK AT PAULIT ULIT NA NANGYARI MAGING DITO SA MAYNILA SANGKOT ANG ASAWA NI RELI GERMAN., AT KAILAN LANG YUNG MGA TIBAYAN AT IBA’T IBA PANG PYRAMIDING SCAMS ANG PUMUTOK. SAN BA NAMAN SILA NAKAKITA NG 10% TO 60% TUBO SA ISANG BUWAN, MARAMI TAYO 5-6 (20%) PERO YUNG NANGUNGUTANG ANG TINUTUBUAN, HINDI YUNG NAGBIGAY NG PERA NA INVESTMENT DAW PERO SCAM. WALA NYAN SA BUONG MUNDO WALANG GANYAN. PWEDE PLACEMENT SA MGA PAWNSHOP O LENDING AT SA MONEY MARKET, LEGAL ANG MGA YUN. KASALANAN DIN YAN NG MGA TAONG NAG INVEST DYAN. PAIKOT LANG GINAGAWA DYAN NG MGA OPERATOR NIYAN. PAG MALAKING MALAKI NA SAKA SISIBAT.MABUTI PA YUNG KAY SOFRONIO BLANDO NOON NG AGRIX SA LOS BAÑOS, TALAGANG GINAMIT SA INVESTMENT NALUGI LANG DAHIL KUNG SAN-SAN GINAMIT ANG PERA AY DI NAG CLICK. PERO PAG GANYAN NA WALANG PINAG GAMITAN, LOKOHAN YAN.

  • virgoyap

    Easy money are like bubbles it fly into the mid air it burst and gone.

  • $14170612

    now the poor become more greedy than before

  • axe musk

    In the Philippines only POLITICIANS can make easy money (by corruption) overnight but not an ordinary person…. Don’t gent envy to your neighbor who is now driving a brand new SUV car, as they may have relatives into politics or may have an affair with a politician….Go work for your own or better try your luck in PCSO lottery.

    Both the officers & investors were eager to make money without a sweat, in short its GREEDINESS…..

    • poltergeist_fuhrer

      absolutely correct…

      people nowadays are becoming more greedy…too materialistic…

  • just_anotherperson

    The situation is the same during elections when people do not care who wins as long as they get the largesse earlier than others.

    Tayo po ang pinang-gagalingan ng ating problema. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DTCTFQ5DGBJY5OKGHXCDKWITJ4 Pinoy Zablan

    I am also a victim of these Investment scams. Anna Fatima De Villa Mendoza and husband Vincel Dimaculangan Pedernal owners of Agripoint Inc. duped a lot of people too. Arrest warrants for estafa have been issued to them but still hiding. Hopefully they will surrender to proper authorities because some victims are contemplating on exacting swift justice into their own hands like what happened to some Aman employees.

    • Earl Galupo

      taga saan man yan sila?

  • PCD_2012

    ******************************************

    Why the whole city has been affected by the old elementary cheating is because a lot of their politicians connived with the con-men!

    Politicians’ alibi that they are also a victim is unjustifiable!  It is more of a case of conspiracy to lure the masses.  The swindlers knew that Filipinos are easy to be lured especially if the people they trusted are the one who will entice them to join the scam.

    All the politicians involved must be removed by DILG and automatically ban them from joining politics forever!

    Their excuses are so cheap, everyone knows that it is a scam!  Those people must be sent to Bilibid to rot!

    ******************************************

    • isellnuts

       I agree! Their mayor (Samuel Co) must disciplined or ousted if the evidences warrants.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HTBCRBRGCOZNYQQJIW6RPYDBRI Greno

    This is again another pyramiding business that made it big and shuts down after racking plenty of money. Scheme like this is prevalent, it exist everywhere and even a subject/unit in college. People will always fall for the promise of better life without sweat. Govt should initiate to pass a law to put an end to this kind of doing business.  

  • OFW_Dubai

     “From the start, I knew it was a scam and bound to burst like a bubble,
    but I took my chances,” explained the business administration graduate….SA MADALING SABI, NAGAHAMAN

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Psiitoon-Charoenkrung/100001362990665 Psiitoon Charoenkrung

    The victims of the pyramid scam has nothing and no one to blame but themselves.  Everybody knows that this kind of scheme is risky but they still invested in it.  This should be a lesson for everybody not to entertain any pyramid scheme.

  • inquirercet

    mga pyramiding scam sa manila mas wais, 10k to 20k lang ang membership para hindi masyado mabigat pero maramihan. the government should ban these networking scams.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3RMNEZCQQHXWOQRXJROQ2CORFU Homer Guo

    lesson: ang gahaman, tinatakbuhan,kaya ubos yaman.

  • gyvv

    S.C.A.M., parang Spam mail yan, pampagulo ng buhay…

  • regd

    The greatest pyramid scam in human existence is organized religion. Bishops, clergy’s, religious leaders (think manalo, quiboloy, velarde etc) are on the top of that list. All other scam pale in comparison. The biggest and the richest counterfeit church continue to steal and cheat people of their hard earned income to this very day! 

    • joerizal

       How true.

    • joshua kings

      don’t point your finger at others if you don’t want 3 fingers pointing back at you…to judge is to rebel against God….for judgment is His and His alone…not ours…..besides, it appears that you have an ignorant view of the roman catholic church….the church build by our Lord Jesus Christ thru first st. peter….she will not last long and be standing til now if she is a thief and a cheat….
      so please, do not scatter your bovine manure here..

    • prince_janus

       Kung totoo yang nasa isip mo! Hayaan mo na ang Panginoon ang magparusa sa kanila. The important is, you believe that there is God and you have faith in Him.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement
Marketplace
Advertisement