Pagadian prosecutors move swiftly vs another scammerBy Nancy Carvajal
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Pagadian City prosecutor’s office acted swiftly on the syndicated estafa case filed against Visioner 2020 Trader’s International, a budding scam company operating in the city.
In a five-page resolution dated November 21, a copy of which the Philippine Daily Inquirer obtained Saturday, Associate City Prosecutors Domingo Santiago M. Briones, Cleto Edralin and Geraldine Edralin said they found probable cause to indict five officials of Visioner based on evidence and statements submitted by five complainants.
Charged with sydicated estafa, a non-bailable offense, were Glenda Gepanao Andagan, Evangeline Gepanao, Efren Gepanao, Efren Gepanao Jr. and Geofrrey Gepanao.
The prosecutors likened Visioner’s operation to that of Aman Futures, which allegedly duped more than 15,000 investors out of an estimated P12 billion in investments.
“Despite the slight modification in the manner by which the investors give their money to Visioner, its modus operandi is no different from Aman Futures Group in Pagadian City and other parts of Mindanao and Visayas,’’ the prosecutors said.
“What Visioner 2020 was promoting and offering to the public was a Ponzi scheme, an investment program that offers impossibly high returns to early investors out of the capital contributed by later investors,” they added.
According to the prosecutors, the idea behind this type of swindle is that the “con man’’ collects his money from his second or third round of investors and then absconds before anyone else shows up to collect.
These schemes, which last weeks or months at the most, entices investors with the promise of big interests over a short period of time.
Unlike in Aman Futures where no documentary requirements were asked from its investors, Visioner required its investors to attend an orientation and collected a registration fee of P1,250.
Visioner also asked its investors to fill up a “disclosure of investment form.”
Complainant Gingging Mustapha said he invested P400,000 on October 12, for which Visioner promised a 50 percent interest due on November 2 while Maricel Edris de Guzman put in P100,000 on September 25 at a 54 percent interest rate and cashout on October 16.
Other investors were Rohanifah Hadjiali, Gonaranao Amer and Bobby Into, who put in amounts ranging from P80,000 to P544,000 on August 26.
Visioner failed to return the principal and interest on the agreed dates, despite repeated demands from the complainants.
The prosecutors also recommended the filing of illegal possession of firearms against Andagan, Efren Gepano Jr. and Geoffrey Gepano.
Also charged with illegal possession of firearms with bail bond set at P80,000 were Odysses Torres and Samuel Revilla.
On November 19, the National Bureau of Investigation raided two Visioners offices—one located at Chiong Building on Aquino Street and another at Mendoza Building on the Pagadian National Highway—based on information that another “scam company is operating in the offices.”
During the raid, five various firearms, ammunition and bullet magazines were found in the possession of the suspects. Also recovered were investment forms, booklets of provisional receipts, membership forms and a motorcyle.