What you need to know about ‘Investment’ Scams Targeting OFWs

MANILA – Have you been offered a “high-yield” investment with the promise of doubling or even tripling your money in just a week or a month? Or have you received a text message saying you won a prize even if you don’t recall joining any raffle?

These are just some recent scams targeting overseas Filipino workers and their families.

Senator Cynthia Villar and Estelle Ople-Osorio, Director of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Center, urged OFWs and their families to think twice before accepting such offers.

They also advised them not to fall victims to such scams which are out to milk them of their hard-earned money.

“If you don’t understand the business behind it, don’t invest. Don’t risk your money,” said Ople.

Text scams

Scam artists sometimes use the names of legitimate organizations to entice their victims. The Villar Sipag Foundation was among them.

Villar shared that scam artists sent out text messages to potential victims telling them that they won a prize from the foundation.

However, there was a catch: “winners” would need to pay a certain amount to be able to claim the said prize.

“We are having a hard time telling everybody that this is not true. We don’t give out prizes in text [messages],” Villar said.


Investment scams

Ople said that some OFWs and their families were also among the thousands of victims of the investment scam called the South Luzon Multipurpose Cooperative-Grand Alliance of Business Leaders Association (SLMC-Gabai).

“It is basically a pyramiding, Ponzi scheme where you can start off with an investment, very small, P350, P500 and then they promise 30 percent or 50 percent return weekly, which is one of the warning signs that we talked about,” Ople said.

Ople reminded the public that no reputable or legitimate investments will give weekly payouts.

This was echoed by Villar who said that the promise of 30% return weekly is unrealistic.

In business, Villar, whose family owns property firm Vista Land and Lifescapes and mall operator StarMalls, said one is lucky if it earns 20 percent in a year.

Ople said victims were told that their money will be invested in high-yield commodities.

“So basically, they confuse people with intellectual sounding terms,” she said. “Do due diligence. Find out who is running the company. Is it really realistic?”

She said it is particularly hard to dissuade people from engaging in questionable ‘high-return’ investments especially if they know someone who allegedly earned from it.

Villar said Filipinos are attracted to businesses that promise them that they could get rich quickly without having to work hard.

“I think we like quick money. We don’t like the idea that you have to really work hard,” she said

The senator’s Villar Sipag Foundation and the Ople Center partnered together to provide OFWs and their families the information they need to avoid being duped by unscrupulous people.

Villar also encourages all OFWs and their families to come to the 4th OFW & Family Summit 2014 which will be held on December 4 at the World Trade Center.

“We are giving opportunities by which they can invest their money like franchising, better than what these people are offering,” she said.

(Source: Maria Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBNnews.com)

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