Raffle, text scam victim helps cops arrest suspects | Inquirer Technology

Raffle, text scam victim helps cops arrest suspects

/ 04:41 AM November 19, 2014

THE FOUR scam suspects behind bars in Digos City ELDIE AGUIRRE/INQUIRER MINDANAO

THE FOUR scam suspects behind bars in Digos City ELDIE AGUIRRE/INQUIRER MINDANAO

DIGOS CITY, Philippines—Sarah, 17, was excited about getting P560,000 from a brewery that was supposed to give her the money as a prize for winning a nationwide raffle of mobile phone numbers.

She received a text message announcing her as winner. The sender claimed to be a lawyer of the brewery. The text was followed by a call from the supposed president of the brewery.

To make it more appealing, she would not have to bother paying taxes as the prize was supposed to be given to her less taxes.


Convinced, Sarah (not her real name) sent money to the person referred to her in three installments that totaled P22,000. She raised the amount by borrowing money from friends and using funds meant for her tuition.

Yet, after the three installments, Sarah became suspicious when the supposed lawyer of the brewery kept asking for more money. The latest text message asked her for money to supposedly fix a case of tax evasion at the Bureau of Internal Revenue she would be facing as a result of her winning.

Someone claiming to be Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares called her up, but by then Sarah, who hails from a poor family, had decided to seek police help.

Supt. Querubin Manalang, city police chief, said that with the help of the city police’s women’s and children’s desk, they laid an elaborate entrapment plan.


Sarah agreed to send some more money to help police catch the suspects.

The money trail led them to the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) in Davao del Norte province.


After coordinating with the Igacos police, four suspects, including a woman, were arrested on Monday.

Manalang identified them as Alfred Wenceslao, Bernardino Luchavez, Jhandy Canuto and Myrna Simon.

Recovered from them were various money transfer receipts, money transfer cards, an ATM card, six cell phones and other pieces of evidence.

Manalang said the operation of the syndicate was known among Igacos locals as the “Hello Garci” because of the use of phones. “Hello Garci” involved a taped phone conversation supposedly between now detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano over Arroyo’s election chances.

Manalang said it was possible the suspects had victimized quite a number of people already. “From the stories we got, one of them (suspects) was able to build two houses from [money from] their victims,” he said.

Senior Supt. Michael John Dubria, Davao del Sur police director, urged victims of the group to come forward and help police file more charges against the suspects.

“These are heartless individuals,” Dubria said.

As of 10 a.m. on Monday, one victim was still trying to contact the syndicate by sending text messages to confirm that he or she had already sent P20,000 to the suspects.

Manalang said police told the last text sender that he or she had been a victim of a scam but the victim appeared to be unbelieving and still wanted to talk to the “attorney.”

Manalang said the group selected victims at random but preyed on the “get-rich-quick” dreams of its victims.

“If a text receiver responds positively, they would take turns in convincing him to send money,” Manalang said.

He said many people had been victimized by similar scams but chose to keep mum out of embarrassment.

“That’s why we are very thankful to [Sarah] for cooperating. If not for her, we would not have anything to pursue in the first place,” he said.

All four suspects have been brought here for detention and to face charges of estafa and violation of the anti-child abuse law.

“We will include child abuse because the complainant is a minor,” Manalang said. Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao


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Lapid wants Senate to probe text scams

Initially published on November 19, 2014. Updated on August 8, 2023.
TOPICS: Digos City, text scam
TAGS: Digos City, text scam

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