Over 400 duped by investment scams in Puerto Princesa

Chinee Palatino, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 07 2016 03:37 PM

PALAWAN - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Palawan said at least 400 complainants have come forward to file charges against two direct selling companies who fled with over P5 million. 

The companies in question, Innov8 and Seven Star General Merchandise, promised a 40 percent return of investment money in just five days. 

Hundreds of residents of Puerto Princesa and of other far flung municipalities in Palawan flocked to the pseudo-investment firms' offices last Monday, hoping to get their principal money back. But no representative of the company showed up to explain what happened. Company owners are also nowhere to be found. 

Innov8 was established last May 30 while Seven Star General Merchandise began operating only last April. 

Innov8 employees, accused of conniving with the company's owners, are allegedly receiving death threats after the owners ran off with investors' money this Sunday. 

In a phone conversation with the news team, the owner said he will just send a lawyer to settle things with local authorities.

The company enticed a lot of Palaweños from all walks of life because of their savvy use of social media. They also banked on social capital, using government employees and members of the Philippine National Police who "invested" money on the company to encourage more people to do the same.

The city government and police later admitted that some of their members joined the "investment scam."

Pseudo-investment companies easily mushroomed in Puerto Princesa in just a span of 6 months. 

The Department of Trade and Industry is now eyeing to investigate five other companies in the city with the similar mode of operation.

According to UP Manila Social Scientist John Ponsaran, poor government regulation and weak justice system allow investment scams to proliferate and go unpunished in the country.