P10M taken in Lapu scam; high officials victims too

ABOUT P10 million in cash was taken from several people in an alleged “double your money” investment scam in Lapu-Lapu City that also included high-ranking government and church officials as victims.

Aside from Lapu-Lapu, the scheme’s victims came from two other cities.

At least four of the many victims went to the office of Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan for help Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023.

The culprit, they said, introduced himself as a former city government employee of former Lapu-Lapu City mayor Arturo “Boy” Radaza.

As narrated by his victims, the suspect started luring them to invest money in rice and lot selling, among others, and guaranteeing that they would get double the amount they invested after a month, in August 2021.

They said the suspect was consistent in paying them for the first three months that they invested with him.

Among one of his common schemes, as per the victims, was that the suspect pretended to own a lot at the South Road Properties (SRP), which he was bound to sell to a Chinese buyer.

The 3,000 square-meter-lot was supposedly sold for roughly P200 million. The suspect asked them for money to process the papers for the lot and promised that they would get at least 20 percent of the total amount of the sale through a memorandum of agreement.

However, as the suspect failed to show them proper documents, one of the victims, who was also his relative, said they confronted him, but he still stood by his modus.

It was only after one of the victims called them that they found the courage to form a group and ask for Chan’s assistance.

3 cities

As they gathered, the victims found out that the suspect had victimized several people in the tri-cities of Lapu-Lapu, Cebu and Mandaue, including high-ranking government and church officials.

“He has several connections. We are not the only victims. There are many of us. He is a genius. There are attorneys, mayors, priests and other big personnel being victimized,” said one of the victims.

They added they never doubted the suspect since he seemed to have a very luxurious lifestyle and also served as a church pianist for roughly 27 years.

SunStar Cebu tried to contact the suspect and former mayor Radaza for comment on the matter but to no avail.

James Sayson, officer-in-charge of Lapu-Lapu City’s Legal Office, said at least eight victims had written a letter to the mayor for help.

Sayson said Chan ordered them to provide legal assistance and help the victims in filing appropriate charges against the suspect.

He said the alleged scammer could face charges of estafa or swindling, the legal term for the criminal offense.

Chan vowed to have the suspect arrested immediately, stressing he would not allow scams to proliferate and destroy the image of Lapu-Lapu City.

“We don’t want that there will be fraudsters here in Lapu-Lapu City because that would discourage investors from investing in the city,” said Chan in Cebuano.

As part of its Enforcement Investor Education and Advocacy, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reminded the public to protect themselves from being swindled in investment scams.

Its reminders include checking the background of anyone selling or offering investment and confirming that the person is currently registered or licensed under the SEC, and not falling for the common tactics con artists use to attract investors, such as having too-good-to-be-true promotional campaigns, testimonials, putting urgency in investing money, and promises of “getting rich quick.”

On May 24, 2022, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act 11765, or the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act, penalizing any person who commits investment fraud with a fine of P50,000 to P5 million, or seven to 21 years of imprisonment, or both, at the discretion of the court.