Pinoy in Spain wanted for P5.4-M fraud

Dan Tuaño, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Oct 01 2017 11:26 AM | Updated as of Oct 07 2017 04:39 PM

MANILA - The Philippine Embassy in Spain called for information on the whereabouts of Filipino fugitive Isidro Lucas Rodriguez, who is accused of defrauding about 90,000 euros or P5.4 million from his kababayans.

Lucas Rodriguez has been transferring from one Spanish city to another, but will no longer able to get through all exit points in Spain, said Consul Ralf Roldan in an exclusive phone interview with ABS-CBN.

Rodriguez allegedly victimized Filipinos in Granada, Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona, promising tourist visas for their families in the Philippines and high investment returns from apartments that he reportedly leased to students and foreigners.

A client who requested not to be named said Rodriguez offered to fix her family’s tourist visas so they can come to Spain, in exchange for 5,450 euros or P325,000.

Rodriguez allegedly claimed he knew top government officials at the Spanish Embassy in the Philippines and even accompanied the victim in applying for a bank loan.

"Naniwala kami sa inyo, sana ‘wag ka ng mambiktima pa ng iba, sana kung mambiktima ka piliin mo man yung mayaman, ‘wag tulad sa akin, ano lang, sahod lang, hindi pa nga nahawakan ang sahod, ubos na," the victim said.

"Mayte", another victim, said Rodriguez convinced her to invest her entire 2,000-euro savings in his apartment-for-rent business.

Rodriguez, she said, had appeared refined, caring and well-versed in English.

"Pinakita niya yung video, lolo nya daw yung E. Rodriguez sa Maynila, tapos may-ari sila ng beach sa may Samal, Davao," recounted Mayte.

"Nakapunta lang daw siya sa Spain bago nanalo si Duterte. Sana raw kung alam niyang manalo si Duterte, supposed to be doon na lang siya sa Pilipinas... Kahit hindi siya magtrabaho, ok lang kasi pinapadalhan siya ng parents niya from the Philippines ng 1,800 euro."

Another victim, Linda, said Rodriguez seemingly hypnotized her.

"May duda ako kahit nakapagbigay ako ng pera, may nerbiyos. Hindi ko ho alam parang may hinatak kami... Ang galing ho nya, para hong may tactics, magic, ewan ko, hypnotize," she said.

Some victims reported that Rodriguez reached out to them through a Facebook account under the name, Lucas Rodriguez, whose profile picture showed an apartment unit.

"Naghahanap po ako ng (unit) talaga nung time na yun, tapos nakita ko siya, una muna nag-wave siya (on Facebook Messenger), hindi ko siya pinapansin and then, nakita ko na nagpopost siya ng mga piso, mga rooms," said Julie.

"Pinapunta niya po ako sa Glories para daw makita ko... Doon nag-suggest sa akin about sa business.”

Some of his victims in Barcelona have filed a complaint against him with the police.

SWINDLING HISTORY

Rodriguez also reportedly swindled around 200,000 euros or P12 million from foreigners, who were looking for rooms and apartment units in Barcelona through Facebook and AirBnb, an online marketplace and hospitality service.

He also has a long history of estafa, illegal recruitment, and human trafficking, according to Migrante International, an alliance of Filipino expatriates.

Migrante said Rodriguez has been found guilty of illegal recruitment in the Philippines. He also has numerous pending cases of syndicated estafa and large-scale illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons filed by some 300 Filipino teachers.

In 2014, the Philippine Embassy in Washington warned on Twitter that, “Isidro Rodriguez is No 1 in #Philippines list of illegal recruiters and traffickers and is subject of manhunt.”

This undated photo shows Isidro Lucas Rodriguez, suspect in a multi-million fraud scam.

Teacher Loel Naparato, one of his victims, urged Filipinos in Spain to help in the manhunt against Rodriguez.

“Magtulungan po tayo para po sa mabilis na ikadadakip…upang gumulong na ang kaso niya rito (sa Pilipinas)," Naparato said.

Engelyn Belmonte-Morano, spokesperson of a group of Filipinos in Spain, echoed the request, saying: “Nananawagan po ako sa mga taga-Spain kasi kayo po ang isa sa mga susi para mahuli po namin si Isidro Lucas Rodriguez."

Rodriguez did not immediate reply to ABS-CBN's request for comment through his email and phone numbers.

Information on Rodriguez may be reported to the Philippine Embassy in Spain through phone numbers 917-823-830 or 616-491-861.