MANILA, Philippines—The blowback over a multibillion-peso pyramiding scam in Mindanao has taken an ominous turn after the brother-in-law of Jachob “Coco” Rasuman, the alleged brains of the Lanao del Sur-based investment scheme, was kidnapped by a group of armed men who are believed to be acting for victims who lost money in the Ponzi fraud.
Henry Khalid A. Tomawis was abducted last Saturday in Lanao del Norte and his kidnappers are demanding a ransom of P300 million, a source in Lanao del Norte said. (In Manila, the National Bureau of Investigation confirmed the kidnapin)g.
The kidnappers have threatened to decapitate Tomawis if Rasuman fails to come up with the ransom money, the source said.
Tomawis is reportedly being held in a remote island of Lanao del Norte.
According to the source, the kidnappers were reportedly hired by an angry investor who lost at least P140 million from the get-rich-quick scheme, with part of the ransom money representing Rasuman’s promised profits and interest.
Rasuman had promised his investors 70-percent to 100-percent gains on their investments in two months from a pyramiding scheme anchored on the buying and selling of used cars.
The source said the investor took matters into his own hands after Rasuman failed to pay his obligations last Feb. 28 as he had promised.
The source said the disgruntled investor had targeted Tomawis because he has so far escaped indictment, unlike Rasuman, the latter’s wife and other family members, and hence was the most vulnerable to abduction.
Virgilio Mendes, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) deputy director for regional services yesterday confirmed the reported kidnapping of Tomawis over the weekend.
He quoted NBI agents in Lanao del Sur as saying that Tomawis is a brother of Rasuman’s wife, Princess Aliah Tomawis.
Mendez said the situation in Lanao del Sur, where the Rasuman scheme and many of its victims are based, remain “peaceful, but fragile” after Rasuman failed to meet the Feb. 28 deadline to pay all investors.
“In November last year, the family of Coco promised all investors will be paid back on Feb. 28, but this did not happen,” he said.
Last week, the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police were placed on full alert and classes were suspended in case trouble arose over the failure of the Rasuman family to pay the investors, said Mendez.
The abduction of Tomawis is connected to this failure to pay, he said, quoting from a report of NBI regional operatives.
The Rasuman group scam is reported to be even bigger than the Aman Futures Group scam perpetrated by Manuel Amalilio who is reported to have scammed more than P12 billion from an estimated 15,000 investors.
Mendez said Tomawis was abducted as he was traveling on board his Mitsubishi Montero in Barangay (village) Payen, Baloi, Lanao del Norte, at about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Around 20 armed men were involved in the kidnapping, the NBI report said.—With Tetch Torres-Tupas, INQUIRER.net
Originally posted: 4:42 pm | Tuesday, March 5th, 2013