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CIDG nabs ‘brains’ in billion-peso investment scam

  • Written by Alfred Dalizon
  • Published in Provincial
  • Read: 482

A DEFEATED congressional candidate-turned-suspected-‘brains’ of a multi-billion pesos investment scam
that victimized thousands of Filipinos beginning in 2014 was arrested by agents of the Philippine
National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in an operation in Angeles City last
Sunday, PNP-CIDG chief Director Roel B. Obusan announced yesterday.

Suspect Darlito Marquez de la Cruz, 26, native of Binmaley, Pangasinan, was tracked down in
his residence in Hensonville, Amic, Angeles City by members of the CIDG Anti-Transnational Crime Unit
and arrested on the strength of a warrant for syndicated estafa and estafa issued by Judge Rafael
Hipolito of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 215, the official said.
    
A record check showed that De la Cruz and one Queen Ashley Ablan ran in the 2001 elections as
the 1st and 2nd nominees of the party-list Tanggol Maralita.
    
Obusan said that a co-accused of De la Cruz, identified as lawyer Anthony Purganan, was also
arrested by operatives of the CIDG Detective and Special Operations Unit in Antipolo City on July 22,
2016.
    
The PNP-CIDG identified De la Cruz as the head of the Hyper Program International Direct Sales
and Trading Corporation which started its operation in March 2014. Their modus operandi, the CIDG
said, was to invite or recruit customers on the Internet, specifically Facebook, to invest in their
cosmetics and health and wellness products and promising huge returns of up to 30-35 percent in a span
of 40 to 45 days.
    
On May 18, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a public advisory warning the
citizenry not to patronize the HPI group after noting that  HPI investors and customers who were
swayed by the suspect to invest money with a promise of huge interests and/or products/merchandise
which will yield high profits for them is a hoax.
    
Authorities learned that the HPI failed to deliver to their patrons after getting their cash
investments. Further doubts were raised when the company ceased operations in November 2016 taking
away with them over a billion pesos worth of investments from their customers.
    
Obusan said that in early 2015, victims of the HPI went to the National Bureau of
Investigation to file formal charges against the officials of the company. There were reports that
some 16,000 individuals were gypped by the company, many of them overseas Filipino workers from Middle
East.
    
One of the HPI victims was identified as Ashraf Mohamed Abdelrahma Akl, a Kuwaiti-based
Egyptian national married to a Filipina who is said to have invested P15 million and US$300,000.
    
Following the filing of charges for syndicated estafa and estafa against the HPI officials
before the QC Prosecutor’s Office, the case was reviewed by Judge Hipolito, leading to the issuance of
warrants of arrest against the suspects. With Zaida delos Reyes-Palanca & Marian Joyce T. Gavino (OJT)