In Agusan, scammer had buying spree before raid
SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur, Philippines — Two months after operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) raided the office of FRX Rice Trading located in Nasipit town in Agusan del Norte province, two officials of the firm revealed how its operator, Dimber Celis, lived it up in the days leading up to the bust of its unregistered investment scheme.
The CIDG operatives raided Celis’ safe house at Barangay Cubi-cubi, Nasipit, on June 24, and found P23 million in cash, money-counting machines and several logbooks. Celis, who remains at large, is facing charges of syndicated estafa and violations of the Securities Regulation Code.
The company lured thousands of investors in the Caraga region with its offer of a weekly payout equivalent to 70 to 80 percent of the amount they had put in.
Mark Clinton Chavez, one of FRX’s five directors who oversaw the firm’s operation in Prosperidad town, said that to his knowledge, Celis bought two brand new sport utility vehicles (SUVs), a beach resort in Buenavista town and a house in the town’s población using the investors’ money.
Another FRX official, Rowena Goloran, said Celis recently bought a brand new pickup truck and another SUV, as well as several other vehicles that she gave her relatives. Celis had acquired several properties under the names of her relatives, Goloran said.
Chavez also recalled an extravagant baptismal and birthday party that Celis hosted for her daughter in Butuan City, when she spent at least P2 million, not counting the cash winnings of P5,000 for parlor games and the expensive perfumes used as giveaways.
Chavez said signs of the impending bust appeared two days earlier when only five investment leaders turned up to remit their pay-ins in Butuan City, an amount that fell short of the promised payouts to investors.
At its peak around mid-May to mid-June, FRX was getting as much as P50 million a day in investments from unsuspecting clients, Chavez said, adding that the accumulated cash he received from pay-ins since he joined on May 15, reached more than a billion pesos.
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