‘Pyramid scam’ leader held in Caloocan
The leader of an alleged big-time pyramid scam that had duped victims to the tune of P120 million was arrested Thursday night in Caloocan City.
A complaint for syndicated estafa has been filed against Norbert Doria, 36, president of Direct Marketing Group International (DMGI), which calls itself a multilevel marketing company with about 20,000 members and based at North Matrixville Subdivision, Barangay 177 in Camarin.
Members of the Northern Police District’s (NPD) special operations unit set a trap for Doria at a fast-food restaurant on Edsa in Caloocan, based on a Dec. 16 complaint from Bernadette Duetiz, one of the DMGI members in Laguna province.
Also named respondents in Duetiz’s complaint are DMGI officers Michael Awa, Gerardo Caguindacan, Mitch Doria and Marlyn Arcilla, who remain at large.
According to the case investigator, PO2 Nepthalie Buensuceso, DMGI attracted potential recruits with a “double-your-money” scheme and a monthly 4-kilo ration of “Angelica” rice delivered to their homes.
Set up in April this year, DMGI had members in Baguio City, Laguna and Davao, and targeted mostly average wage-earners and overseas workers, Buensuceso said. They could start with a minimum investment fee of P1,000, he added, quoting the complaint.
According to Buensuceso, the company’s supposed earnings to be paid out to members are now estimated at P120 million.
As of Friday, 10 more members have lodged complaints in the NPD, including Judith Llorera, 30, a DMGI chapter head in Malolos, Bulacan province, who joined in September because of the monthly rice provision.
In an interview, she said she decided to sue after receiving checks that later bounced and a memo from Doria saying that DMGI—which stopped giving the members’ earnings last month—had already run out of funds.
The promised resumption of payment on Dec. 7 did not happen, she said. Llorera and the 100 members under her Malolos chapter have yet to collect P1.3 million from their P2.4-million investment, while the last rice supply they received was down from 4 kilos to 3.
Being a chapter head, she herself had become afraid to leave her residence and face the wrath of her members. She cited the case of another chapter leader in Laguna whose house was pelted with rocks by angry members demanding their money back.
Speaking to investigators, Duetiz said DMGI continuously recruited members and pooled money from investors despite an advisory from the Securities and Exchange Commission warning the public against the “bogus” company.
To entrap Doria on Thursday, the police made Duetiz meet with Doria to supposedly give him P60,000 to help save the company from bankruptcy.
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