CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – A young female suspected of being involved in an online investment scam has admitted she was the founder of a social media-based group that offered a huge monetary return to potential investors in this city.
The National Bureau of Investigation-10 (NBI-10) has identified the suspect as Antonette Sestoso, 23, of Barangay Kauswagan, this city. She is also an online shop seller.
Sestoso told reporters she was the founder of the online investment scheme, but she is not the only one who received the money from investors.
“I started it (online investment scam) but there are others who also receive the money,” she said.
NBI-10 regional director Patricio Bernales Jr. said Sestoso surrendered to his office on Friday, March 8, “for her own safety.”
Sestoso turned herself into the NBI as hundreds of individuals filed a complaint before the bureau as she failed to give them their promised interest.
The complainants alleged that Sestoso, through social media, offered a huge return if they invest their money to her, which they will send through a remittance service. A thousand pesos, for instance, will become P1,700 in 10 days.
According to lawyer Alex Caburnay, NBI-10 head agent, Sestoso’s modus is to entice her friends on Facebook to invest money with the promise of a huge return in a few days.
Caburnay said the suspect has created a chat group on Facebook telling her friends that their money will grow.
Aside from large-scale swindling and estafa, the suspect will also be charged for violating sections of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 as her transactions took place online.
Based on the NBI-10 records the amount the victims have invested in has reached only P3 million, Caburnay said.
Bernales said the suspect has promised to return the money in three to four months, but added he doubted if Sestoso could produce enough cash to pay all her investors back.
A victim, who requested not to be named, said she lost a total of P408,000 from the suspect.
The 25-year-old private school teacher said she first sent P25,000 to Sestoso through a money remittance service on Feb. 2 and received P45,9000 a week after.
Motivated by the huge return, she invested a bigger amount and even told her friends to do the same.
“I re-invested the cash I received. I told my friends to join because our money will multiply,” she said.
But on her second investment, she no longer received the money as promised.
She said she knew Sestoso as she is also an online marketer like her, adding she has no intention to charge the suspect but was left with no choice as many of her friends who she convinced to invest has threatened to sue her if she won’t file a case.
“I only wanted my money back. She told me she can pay me back but not the entire amount that I invested,” she said. (davaotoday.com)