Expats: Beware of con women

SPY BITS - The Philippine Star

An expat working for a major multinational company had to resign from his executive position and was compelled to leave the country because of his involvement with a young Filipina. The two had a romantic relationship with the expat bringing her to Boracay, Palawan and other parts of the country.

The foreign expat fell in love with the young woman who, as is typical in such relationships, soon became more demanding to the point that she expected the man to leave his family. The man refused, so she made use of the internet and Facebook to send his children photos showing her and the man in a very compromising situation.

When the expat finally decided to end the relationship, the young woman went running to the police with stories of abuse and violence, even claiming that the man was also into drugs. The sordid tale forced the multinational firm to terminate the expat’s services and make him leave the country to avoid a full-blown scandal that would have also dragged the company.

This is not the first time that something like this has happened. Apparently, there is reportedly a syndicate prying on foreigners, including diplomats, who are in the country without their families. In fact, another horror story is that of a gentleman connected to an embassy who also got involved with a Filipina who conned him into paying all her bills and used him as her personal wallet and ATM machine. She used her feminine wiles to make him buy her all sorts of things including getting visas – and it was only much later that the man discovered that she was only taking him for a ride. Worse, he also found out that she had other foreign boyfriends at the same time that he was in a relationship with her. As it turns out, the woman was part of a syndicate.

Of course, such stories are not necessarily the norm as there are a lot of Filipinas out there who are into genuine relationships with foreign men. However, there are hustlers and scamming women who are proliferating. The advent of social networks such as Facebook and apps like Tinder make it easier for them to find their mark. Once they are in a relationship, the woman would start having all kinds of problems like a sick father in the province who needs an operation, etc. and would ask the guy for financial help.

Sins of the father paid for by the sons

Despite their deaths, the sons of Bernie Madoff will still have to pay $23 million from their estates as part of a deal with the US government to pay back the victims of a Ponzi scheme that has been dubbed as the biggest financial scam ever in US history. Irving Picard, the trustee who has been tasked to recover the stolen funds, also said that additional new settlements amounting to $371 million brings the total recovery to $12 billion.

The amount is actually paltry considering that Madoff made off with an estimated $65 billion, which many say largely contributed to the 2008 financial mess in the US that spread to the rest of the globe. To recall, the Wall Street whiz lured thousands of investors by promising fantastic returns on their investments. Since Madoff a former chairman of the NASDAQ stock market and was known as a philanthropist, many people trusted him.

Like in every Ponzi scheme, an ever-increasing amount of money from new investors is needed to fund the huge returns promised to early investors. Things began to unravel on Dec. 10, 2008 when Madoff’s sons Andrew and Mark went to the authorities – a move which many say was calculated to get them off the hook – claiming their father had confessed that the asset management arm of Madoff’s company was actually a Ponzi scheme.

Madoff was arrested by the FBI two days later, and the subsequent criminal investigation by the US attorney’s office resulted in a 150-year prison term for the man who once worked as a lifeguard and whose rise – and fall – in the financial world can be described as legendary in proportion. Two years after Madoff’s arrest, his son Mark committed suicide by hanging himself with a dog leash. Four years later, the other son, Andrew, died of cancer at the age of 48.

While Madoff’s sons were not indicted, the court-appointed bankruptcy trustee accused Mark and Andrew of benefiting from their father’s financial scheme and squandering more than $150 million of investors’ money to finance their opulent lifestyles.

In the Philippines, we also have a number of financial scams perpetrated by big-name personalities, and what is disgusting is that many of the victims are ordinary Filipinos who entrust their hard-earned money and even retirement funds to such gypsters. Meantime, no one knows whatever happened to the scammers or if they have been made to pay at all.

One well-known case of financial fraud involved Celso de los Angeles of the Legacy Group that launched one of the biggest financial scams in the Philippines estimated at P30 billion.  Like Madoff, De los Angeles operated a Ponzi-like scheme via a network of rural banks that promised huge returns to millions of depositors all over the country, many of them fisher folk, farmers, teachers, market vendors, retirees and ordinary Filipinos who were hoping to grow their money. 

Celso was eventually arrested, but was placed under hospital arrest because of his deteriorating health. In March 2012, De los Angeles died of throat cancer. His death extinguished his criminal liability, with the cases against him also dismissed – leaving behind a legacy of shattered dreams for many ordinary people who were left holding an empty bag of promises.

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Email: spybits08@gmail.com


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