Sextortion – what is it?
It is the newest word in the scammer’s dictionary - sextortion. So what is it and what should you do if you have become a victim?
Many of us use webcams to chat to people, to work and even to flirt with new contacts. Some people use their webcams for cybersex and that is certainly not against the law unless it is with somebody underage.
The problem comes when the person that you meet online turns out not to be the person they have claimed to be.
A creeping menace
At Wilsons Detectives, more and more often victims are contacting us who have fallen prey to sextortionists who are using fake identities. These criminals, pretending to be like-minded individuals will entice their victim to have sex in front of their webcams. A common way to get victims involved is by using an attractive woman to flatter and then persuade the individual to partake in sex play. And this type of story has wider implications as often the women used as bait have themselves been coerced into what they are you doing or may have received threats or financial incentives to draw others in.
How they do it
The webcam images are recorded by the criminals who will then get in touch with the victim, threatening to send the images to their friends and families and business colleagues through their email or other online accounts, which will also have been hacked. This type of crime is taking its toll. In the UK, four men have already taken their own lives rather than face the shame of exposure by a sextortionist.
Men and Women are affected
But it is not only men who are targeted in this type of crime as women too can be blackmailed or coerced into carrying out sexual acts in order to prevent a sextortionist revealing what they themselves have been doing. This is a dirty crime with victims all the way along the line from the person set up to tempt another, through to the victim, and potentially their friends and family as well. The best ways to ensure that you do not become a victim of this type of crime is never to share anything intimates online unless you know the person very well.
The Criminals behind this type of crime
The evidence points towards the fact that organised crime groups, mostly from overseas, are behind this type of crime because the risk of carrying out this kind of crime, for them, is very low. Additionally they are able to reach a lot of victims online very easily. As well is that is the bonus for the criminal that many people are too embarrassed to report this particular kind of crime
What can you do to do if you have been a victim of sextortion?
If you are being threatened by someone who claims to have explicit images of you and is asking for money to ensure they don’t share those images the first thing to do is to stay calm. Then:
At Wilsons Detectives, we are seeing more of this type of crime and if you have been affected you should remember that you are a victim of an organized criminal gang. You are not alone and we can help you resolve the problem. Contact us now on https://www.detectiveswilsons.com/
Subject of investigation Raen Guisando: There was a supposed random shooting upon which his nephew Ariel Guisando, died from gun shot wounds. Two masked riders shot him and his friend, Ed Gepiga, who survived hiding in a hut next to a farm where the two boys were working for this Raen Guisando who is known to the police.
It was Raen Guisando's motorcycle that the two boys were using before the attack and Guisando was questioned by the police. Its alleged Guisando lent the motorcycle to the two youngsters as he knew there would be an attempt on his life.
The plot thickens however! Its recently been discovered that not only did Guisando lend these two young men his motorbike but he also lent the deceased, his nephew Ariel Guisando, his jacket! Yes, his jacket which was very distinctive and what Guisando normally wore on the motorbike. Make of that what you will but we suggest there is only one possible conclusion.
Now lets all ask ourselves why would he do that when he admits to receiving death threats two week prior to the murder and attempted murder - this is a question the police should be asking. Did Guisando willfully endanger the life these two young men? It would seem so.
Guisando said to the police that he received threats on the phone two weeks before the incident but still lent his nephew his motorbike and jacket making it almost inevitable what would happen.
The question is why was he being threatened. Rumour is that he had scammed some local people out of substantial funds and land. Also perhaps a drug deal gone wrong. There was also a dispute of land owned by a foreigner but somehow sold by Raen Guisando. There were also investments gone bad because Guisando took the capital for his own drug business. There is a long list of people scammed by Guisando.
Raen Guisando: There was a supposed random shooting upon which his nephew Ariel Guisando, died from gun shot wounds. Two masked riders shot him and his friend, Ed Gepiga, who survived hiding in a hut next to a farm where the two boys were working for Guisando.
It was Raen's motorcycle that the two boys were using before the attack and Guisando he was questioned.
The plot thickens however! Its recently been discovered that not only did Guisando lend these two young men his motorbike but he also lent the deceased, his nephew Ariel Guisando, his jacket!
Now why would he do that when he admits to receiving death threats two week prior to the murder and attempted murder.
Guisando said to the police that he received threats on the phone two weeks before the incident but still lent his nephew his motorbike and jacket making it almost inevitable what would happen.
The question is why was he being threatened. Rumour is that he had scammed some local people out of substantial funds in perhaps a drug deal. There was also a dispute of land owned by a foreigner but sold by Raen Guisando. There were also investments gone bad because Guisando took the capital for his own drug business. There is a long list of people scammed by Guisando.
There is no doubt that the Philippines is a holidaymakers dream. As well as enjoying the amazing natural wonders and culture there are many beach resorts to enjoy. However one thing happens when we are on holiday. We relax. Although Filipinos have a great reputation for their hospitality and friendliness unfortunately there will always be some ready to prey on the unwary. We decided to put together a few of the most common ways in which visitors or travelers might be targeted.
1. The Tanim-bala scam
First, there is the Tanim-Bala scam that usually targets visitors from overseas and overseas Filipino workers (OFW). What happens in the scam is that unsuspecting passengers have their luggage planted with bullets that then show up in the x-ray machine. The airport police will detain the Traveler until they receive the sum of money they demand. Although this scam started originally in 2015, because it has been extensively covered in the media, it is thankfully less prevalent today. Our advice on how to avoid being caught up in the scam is to maintain vigilance before, during and even after your luggage is scanned by the x-ray machine. Always keep your luggage locked and cover it well if it is not hard suitcase. Do not allow anyone to handle your luggage and don’t handle anyone else’s cases either. If despite all your precautions you do get caught up in this kind of scam our advice is to stay calm and carefully check what they are doing as they examine your bags. Never offer a bribe to get out of this situation, and call a lawyer right away, if you are being unduly harassed or are denied permission to board your flight.
2. The broken meter scam
So, having successfully negotiated the airport, the next thing is to get a taxi to your hotel. This is where another prevalent scam comes in. As you get into the taxi the taxi driver informed you that is meter is not working. They will offer to give you a fixed price to your destination instead. Recently a foreigner who actually lives in the Philippines took a video of such a taxi driver taking him to his destination and charging a fixed rates of $9.35 instead, which was grossly over the price that you should’ve paid. It is perhaps not uncommon for a taxi driver realizing they have a newcomer to the area in the back of their cab, to take a longer route but the problem, in some areas of the Philippines is becoming out of control with taxi drivers fixing their meters as well to fleece the unwary customer.
There’re several simple steps to take to ensure that you do not get caught up in this kind of scam. If you get in to taxi and the driver says that is meter is not working get out again! Lets the driver know if you spot anything that looks suspicious to you. Let him know but you have informed your friends or family that you are in his and to give his name and his ID number to somebody before you travel.
3. Taxi spray scam
Another taxi scam is the scan it’s called the taxi spray Scan and will usually occur when passenger is travelling alone. The first sign that this scam may be about to happen is that the driver will be trying to cover his nose and mouth with cloth. Next you will spray something into the air that will eventually make you feel or dizzy. The idea here is that you lose consciousness allowing the driver to rob you assault you and they leave you on the side of the road.
To avoid this scam make sure that you’re always aware of what is going on in the taxi. Do not wear ostentatious jewelry or anything that might attract the
attention other potential robber. Again make sure that friends family or your hotel know what tax you’re being driven in and make sure the driver knows that to. If the driver does spray something into the air get out of the car immediately. Vigilance is always going to be key.
4. Hit, steal, and run scam
Of course in many places of the world there is the danger of having a phone snatched all valuables stolen especially if you’re in the car crawling along in traffic. Typically the thief will approach the car and threw eggs onto the windscreen or spray the windscreen with something that makes it impossible to see out unless you get out of the car and clean it. Once you do then they will strike stealing your possessions and anything then get hold of.
To avoid falling victim to this kind of scam if anyone does throw anything on your windscreen or at your car on the road, don’t do anything until you’re in a place where it is safe to stop and clean your windshield. Never drive through the windows open and avoid areas that appear unsafe. Fitting a dash cam in your car maybe another worthwhile deterrent.
The Philippines is of course not the only place where pickpockets operate. However they will normally seek out to crowded places in which to operate. Typically they will employment distraction tactics and while you are distracted Will use nice to cut through handbag straps I’d grab wallets.
To avoid this type of scam never allow yourself to be distracted and if someone does approach you be aware that they could be planning to rob you. Keep your bags closed and wallets in front pockets and if someone doesn’t stop you make sure you put your hands on your valuables over your clothes. Never carry large amounts of money or where expensive jewelry when you’re out sightseeing or in crowded places. Use a money belt for
phones and wallets so that they cannot easily be taken.
6. Credit card scam
Someone who was carrying out credit card scams will have a small device that can read information from a credit card including the pin number. This information will then be used for the scammer to make purchases on your credit card.
To avoid this type of scam whenever you use your credit card you should be vigilant and never let the card out of your site. It is better if you can to paying cash especially if you’re not able to see the machine that the merchant is using to take your payment.
7. Spiked drinks
Part of being on holiday or visiting new place is enjoying the nightlife. But if you do decide to go out to drinks make sure that you don’t go alone. If you are travelling solo then night-time is a time when you need to be extra vigilance underwear of where you are so that you do not fall victim to robbery or even worse to rape or other attack. Be aware that it is not uncommon the drinks to be spiked so that robbers can strike when you are out of disadvantage.
8. ATM skimming
You might think that going to an ATM to withdraw small amounts of money at a time might be a safe option. Unfortunately these days ATMs carry the risk of potential robbery. Again distraction techniques will be used, on a machine that has a card reader illegally installed to read your card details. Often someone might pretend that they had picked up some money that
you’ve dropped just at the point that you’re putting in your pin, which they then memorise for their own use and later they can drain your account
To avoid this type of scan always take someone else with you to the ATM and looked around carefully to make sure there is no card reader setup to capture your details as you use the machine. Make sure that you cover the keypad with your freehand so that nobody can see the pin number you enter. Be aware of anybody loitering around machine or seeming to pay particular attention to you, and offering to be ‘helpful’ in some way. If you can, always use an ATM within a bank for safer transactions.
9. The Budol-Budol gang sting
Members of a Budol-Budol gang will employ different ways to fleece vulnerable victims. One tactic often employed will be to make up an emotional story. One scam that I heard about involved an elderly woman in great distress approaching a foreigner and saying that some money had been planted in their bag that belonged to her daughter. The foreigner assured the woman that no one had been anywhere near her bag but to calm her down, allowed her to look inside. Satisfy the woman went off, with the visitors Wallet and with a ring that the old woman had advised the foreigner took off and placed in the purse to be safe. And these scanners work very fast their true magicians, and if you’re not vigilant, it’s all too easy for your belongings to completely disappear.
To avoid this type of scam, be very aware of getting into a conversation with a stranger, especially one who appears distressed or insistent. That old adage you land at your mother’s knee is right. Never talk to strangers! Again avoid wearing valuable jewelry or anything ostentatious when you’re out and about.
To avoid this scam never leave your drink unattended. If you can, buy a bottle so much the better as it is more difficult to tamper with. Never accept a drink especially a bottled drink if it is already open from a stranger. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened, just leave the bar and stick to crowded places where you will be safer. Never venture down dark alleys.
10. Public WiFi
The biggest risk of your Wi-Fi being hacked is if you were signed into an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. A skilled hacker can access all your personal information within a short 20 minutes time-frame. That includes online accounts and passwords that can have a serious impact on the safety of your accounts and your details.
To avoid this type of scam never connect to a suspicious Wi-Fi hub. If you can bring pocket Wi-Fi or use your mobile data. Never connect to an unsecured network that does not need a password.
11. Fake travel agencies
Fake travel agencies often attract their victims through cheap deals and offers. The packages that they offer seem attractive with the inclusion of transport and full board packages at very low prices. You pay your money and wait for your tickets, but they will never come.
To avoid this scam remember what we always say if it looks too to good to be true then it probably is too good to be true. Only deal with reputable travel agencies and look at further positive reviews. If possible always make your reservation with a travel agency that has a physical office. Check that they have the right licensing and are ATOL protected or similar.
12 Money changer scam
When you were on holiday or travelling in the Philippines there will be a wide variety of money changers available especially within the Metro Manila area. The scam here is to attract people with attractive exchange rates that available on the black market. But as you change your money beware, many of the tennis our real magicians in the sleight of hand and may spirit away several notes as they counts them out to you
To avoid this type of scam if you’re not able to withdraw from your ATM card get your money changed in a safe and well lit area. Double check the conversion rates before the transaction with your calculator because it has been known the fake calculators to be used. Make sure you know the commission charges before you proceed. Count your money before you get it over and right after he received your Pesos.
There are a lot of risks involved with travel these days and scams are everywhere. However we hope that by highlighting these types of scams that are particularly common in the Philippines, you will be able to travel safely and enjoy your time, however long you plan to stay. Scamwatch Philippines are determined to identify scams wherever they occur and to warn against them. If you have been scammed, contact us for advice.
Panic-stricken and defrauded, victims who are defrauded and scammed are asked to pay large sum on money usually through Western Union. The scams most common are in relation of business investment or sometimes scams related to drug deals. A victim of Raen Guisando sent him HK$23,000 in the Philippines. He e-mailed his Western Union receipt to Mr Guisando, who acknowledged it. Rather than keeping up his promise of a good deal, Mr Guisando defrauded the individual and stop returning his calls. Two hours later, Mr Guisando demanded more money of the victim or else threatened him that the deal would be cancelled.
Mr. Guisando, I did find an interesting article from 2015. There was a supposed random shooting upon which his nephew (not specified), Ariel Guisando, died from gun shot wounds. Two masked riders shot him and his friend, Ed Gepiga, who survived hiding in a hut next to a farm where the two boys were working. It was Raen's motorcycle that the two boys were using before the attack and he was questioned. He said to the police that he received threats on the phone two weeks before the incident. The question is why was he being threatened. Rumour is that he had scammed some local people out of substantial funds in perhaps a drug deal. There was also a dispute of land owned by by a foreigner but sold by Raen Guisando.
DAVAO CITY—More cases of “spurious” land titles are surfacing in General Santos City, with a parcel of land sold to a businessman in Manila as the latest example.
The General Santos City Register of Deeds has found the mother title of the 707.6-hectare property bought by a Manila-based businessman near General Santos International Airport to be spurious.
Apparently, the land is part of a 747-ha area owned by the government and is presently committed to the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (Ifma) between the government and Alsons Development and Investment Corp.
As the Register of Deeds continued its investigation, the office also discovered that the same piece of property was already being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation after a claimant, identified as Romeo Confesor, presented a title claiming ownership of the Ifma area.
The property is one of the items discussed at a recent hearing conducted by the Senate committee on justice and human rights, chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, after the body expressed alarm over the increase in the number of cases of fake land titles in Mindanao.
During the hearing, it was revealed that Confesor claimed that he had been the rightful owner of the property since 1956 but government records revealed that he was only 15 years old at that time.
Despite the land claims, officials from the Land Registration Authority (LRA), led by Deputy Administrator Ronald Ortile, reaffirmed the findings of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the NBI that claimants were holding fake titles.
And with an official report from the LRA under the Investigation Report of the Task Force Titulong Malinis, the General Santos City Register of Deeds had already recommended that the spurious land titles be deleted from the registry.–Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao
Even the most experienced travelers ignore warnings about the risk of kidnap in the south of The Philippines at their own peril.
It might seem like a big adventure to go to less-travelled parts of The Philippines, but be warned, you'll be taking a big risk if you ignore warnings about the kidnapping of foreigners.
When Does a Philippines Adventure Become Too Risky?Back in February 2012 three foreign nationals on an adventure trip in the far south of the country were kidnapped by Abu Sayaf. Kidnappings by this criminal/terror outfit often do not end well.
Ransom is one of the methods used by Abu Sayaf to fund their long-running campaign for an independent Muslim state in this part of the predominantly Christian country, and they don't care how long they have to hold their captive until they get paid. Australian man Warren Rodwell, who was not a tourist but lived in the region with his Filipina wife, was taken just before Christmas 2011. He was finally released in June 2013. There's been no comment on whether the $2million ransom was paid in full, in part, or not at all.
Back to the foreign travellers in February 2012. According to local authorities the men were travelling between remote islands in the Tawi-Tawi group to capture images of rare birds. They were spotted by gang members in a passing motorboat. They stopped them and took them captive at gun point. An unlucky encounter, or a calculated risk gone bad?
The danger to foreigners in this region is well known. Most governments tell their citizens not to go there under any circumstances.
There‘s evidence they were also warned about the risk by local authorities. Tawi-Tawi Governor Sadikul Sahali told The Associated Press he sent along a town council member and an off-duty police officer because the foreigners had refused an armed escort.
There must have been a big incentive to go to this notoriously dangerous region, maybe bragging rights at the bird watching club, or more likely, big money from wildlife magazines for shots of a rare Sulu Hornbill? Maybe they calculated they didn‘t want an armed escort because a Marlboro-smoking goon with an AK-47 scares the birds away just before you press the shutter button.
Avoiding Danger & Unacceptable Risk in the Philippines
It might seem like a big adventure to go to less-travelled parts, but it is important not to let your sense of adventure blind you to the real risks. Those travel warnings are in place for a reason. Plus, local knowledge is always best, if the provincial governor wants you to take an armed escort, listen to him.
But in the end it‘s up to each person to make their own call on the level of risk they‘re prepared to accept. These photographers deliberately put themselves in harm‘s way, went to a region where kidnapping is a real risk, where they know it will be extremely unlikely they‘ll be able to get emergency assistance of any kind. Would you be surprised to learn there‘s no way a regular travel insurance policy would cover them, and their home governments are powerless to help? No, me neither.
There are some amazing things to lure the adventurous to this region. Whether it's a pristine beach surrounded by clear blue waters, or a rare Sulu Hornbill bird.... but you have to ask yourself is it worth the risk?
Online scammers will take your money and leave you broke and heartbroken
MANILA, Philippines – Joanna* can no longer recall his name but she still remembers waiting for him at the airport and the sinking feeling of realizing that he was not coming.
“I felt so stupid. I should have known better,” said Joanna* who is speaking about the incident for the first time – months after it had happened.
She met him on the online dating site OkCupid. He was an American businessman based in Japan. She was a working single mother who wanted to widen her dating pool. Online dating was a convenient and practical way to meet men. She had to wade through the usual profiles of men looking only for sex, but she had other friends who had met their husbands online and it made her hopeful.
They were not in a relationship but they had been texting constantly for weeks when he said he was going to Cebu for some kind of volunteer work and proposed a side trip to Manila. He wanted to meet Joanna in person. She wanted to get to know him better and see if there was a possibility to take it to the next level.
He sent Joanna a copy of his booking reservation at the Marriott Hotel and Joanna was made to believe that they were both counting the days until they would meet.
It had not occurred to Joanna that she was the target of a romance scam also known as “confidence fraud.”
Ruth Grover, a UK resident, runs ScamHaters, a crime watch website that posts online profiles of would-be scammers to warn potential victims. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Grover said that she had noted that women in the Philippines were emerging to be prime targets for scammers but could not pinpoint the reason why.
The unfolding of a scam
When he had supposedly arrived in Cebu, he messaged Joanna constantly and told her how much he was looking forward to meeting her in Manila. The anticipation was mounting.
A few hours before his scheduled arrival, he called her in a panic.
He couldn’t board the plane and didn’t have enough cash to buy another plane ticket. He had called his mother for some money but since it was already evening in the US she couldn’t send it. It was only Joanna who could help him now. He asked her to speak to the airline representative because he was already exhausted and confused by all the instructions.
A well-spoken Filipino woman explained to Joanna that he needed to buy another ticket. It would cost P18,000 and he needed it urgently or else he would not be able to fly to Manila.
“I already had a strong feeling it was all a scam at that point. But he was still texting me, saying I was an angel for doing this for him. His words sounded so good to me. I ignored my gut feeling. I was so willing to charge it to experience.”
Joanna sent P18,000 through LBC.
“He continued to text me after that, thanking me and promising to pay me back as soon as he got to Manila. He even sent a photo of the boarding gate with a note saying that he would see me soon.”
His last message was to let her know that the flight was delayed but that he was going to see her soon.
The plane from Cebu landed, but no one came to meet Joanna. Her calls went unanswered until the line went dead. Initially, she began to worry that something may have happened to him.
She went to the airline counter to see if a passenger with his name was on the flight. The airline could not disclose passenger information but seeing how distraught she was, conceded. They managed to tell her that the flight had arrived but there was no one by that name on the flight.
“It took me that long to accept that I had been scammed,” she sighed.
Joanna immediately threw away the LBC remittance receipt. “I wanted to forget that it ever happened – and that it happened to me.”
In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that financial losses due to romance scams exceeded $230 million – the highest of all internet related crimes. In 2016, the FBI recorded close to 15,000 romance scam complaints. The law enforcement agency said that actual number may be higher and estimated that only about 15% of romance scams are even reported.
The Philippine National Police Anti-CyberCrime Group (PNP-ACG) investigates all crimes that make use of information communication technology or communication platforms that involve the internet, wireless networks, and mobile phone technology.
Online romance scams do not have a singular classification and fall under the crime of estafa or swindling. This makes it difficult to extract just how many complaints for online romance scams have been filed.
During the investigation for this story, Rappler spent time at the PNP-ACG complaints desk in Camp Crame. About 5 complainants came forward that day to report being a victim of an online romance scam or sextortion, the act of extorting money from someone through threats of exposing sexual photos of them.
At the time of this interview, PNP-ACG Director Marni Marcos estimated that the department was looking into about 50 complaints filed. Marcos, however, cautioned that this was not to be taken as a indication that the incidence of online romance scams is low.
On the contrary, Marcos said that these scams are becoming increasingly common, operating under what is now becoming a familiar playbook.
First, you meet online on a dating site or on Facebook in cases where the scammer sends a friend request. Once a match is made, the scammer conducts what Marcos referred to as “social engineering” or the use of deception to manipulate you into divulging personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes.
“The scammer will analyze what you post, what you like, your interests. These con artists will use this information and gain your trust and make you fall in love with them. Sometimes it is not only about money. Scammers may be getting your personal information to be used for other fraudulent activities later on.”
In one case, Marcos shared that the victim had received a call from someone saying that her online boyfriend had met an accident and urgently needed money.
While the victims are usually women, it was difficult to pinpoint a specific profile. “The victims are from all walks of life and from across different age groups,” said Marcos.
Meanwhile, international data shows that victims are usually women, with women over the age of 50 being defrauded out of the most money. People who have experienced a devastating life-changing event like grief over the loss of a spouse, unemployment, or divorce within the last two years are more likely to be victims of any kind of surveyed fraud.
What is less common is victims reporting it. Most victims are overcome by shame and are too embarrassed to admit that they fell for a scam that they’d rather not file a complaint.
When Rappler told Marcos about Joanna’s experience, he said that hers is still considered a small amount. “One case that we are handling here ran up to P2.2 million. It involved property already. It’s usually only when the amounts involved are so high that a victim will file a complaint and pursue a case.”
While perpetrators may be individuals working together with a partner, the PNP is not discounting the possibility that criminal groups running online extortion rings may be behind online romance scams and sextortion.
Even if a case is filed, it is very difficult to investigate. “Though we receive complaints, there is little evidence to file a case in court. Who do you file a case against? What evidence is there to prove this person’s true identity? The court will not accept a case filed against a fictitious character.”
Romance scams are a slow burn operation. Scammers take their time to win their victim’s trust and pull out all the stops in endearing themselves to their victim. They are effusive with compliments and thoughtfulness until the money is transferred to them. And then the scammer disappears along with the money.
PNP-ACG records show that no scammers have been caught and prosecuted.
Money transfer agencies say that while checks are part of regulatory standard operating procedures, verifying the authenticity of identification cards can only be done to a certain degree.
“Our branch associates are trained to review and verify the ID cards, however – let’s admit, the prevalence of fake IDs is quite rampant, and many are really good fakes,“ said Rea Gomez of corporate affairs at LBC.
“The contract between a sender and our company/service is quite simple: a sender provides us with the information of the consignee, and if a person comes to our branch with proper identification plus the transaction details, we are, by law, required to release the funds to them,” added Gomez.
Even tracing the receiver through a mobile number provided in the transaction is futile.
“It is difficult to discern whether the number provided in the transaction is really theirs, or a ‘burner’ phone. Fake IDs, burner phones, and fake addresses are all difficult to discern and verify,” said Gomez.
To help curb scams, LBC has limited the types of acceptable IDs, however, that poses another difficulty from a business perspective. “It is a bit counterintuitive to the idea of financial inclusion that we and other remittance centers are trying to promote but we try our best to serve their needs while still complying with legal regulations,” said Gomez.
In the instances that there is enough information, LBC does blacklist the concerned identity. All future transactions under that identity will be denied.
This is rare though and most scammers are sophisticated not only in their modus operandi, but also in the presentation of their persona as charming and attentive suitors.
Charmed and disarmed
Cecille* admitted that she let her vulnerability get the better of her when she allowed herself to be smitten by Alex Brown, a 50-year-old American she had met on Tinder.
Vulnerability is not a word that one would readily associate with the 55-year-old Cecille.
Everything about Cecille spoke a subdued aura of self-assuredness. Her stylish and expensive watch tucked under the sleeve of her button down shirt. Her hair, which fell past her shoulders in soft waves that looked like they had been just been christened by a hairstylist. Her aviator shaped tinted glasses propped on her head.
On the surface, Cecille had it all. She had retired from the C-suite of her banking career and started her own travel business. She was traveling the world and relishing the role of grandmother to two precocious grandchildren.
But there was one thing was missing in her life: someone to share it all with.
“I'm lonely. I’m at a stage in my life when I want to belong to someone. When I have a great day, I have no one to share it with. When I need a hug, there’s no one,” said Cecille.
Her long-term relationship had just ended and the two sons she had raised single-handedly were grown and living their own lives. For the first time in her life, Cecille was feeling alone.
Her girl friends thought it was time to do something about it. “I was at a gathering with the girls and one of them was talking about their Tinder date and all of a sudden, all eyes turned to me! They dared me to try Tinder.”
Cecille was reluctant, but her girl friends were so adamant that they even paid for her Tinder Gold account.
Alex was an engineer with his own consultancy business working on a project in Copenhagen. He challenged her intellectually. He recommended books for her to read. And she loved talking to him about her day throughout the night and waking up to his good morning texts the next day.
He was one of the 3 men she was chatting with on Tinder. All three men were all engineers and all American. “I was having a hard time keeping up with all the texting with these different men. I was getting confused,” she laughed, exasperated at her slow transition to this kind of meeting and trying to build a connection with someone online, before you even meet them.
When Alex asked her if she was still talking to other Tinder matches, she wasn’t quite sure what to say but she didn’t want to lie and said yes. Alex wasn’t happy about it. He wanted Cecille to devote her attention to him. He was ready to commit and wanted Cecille to do the same.
At 55, Cecille had her first LDR – long distance relationship. And it began on Tinder.
For 3 months, Alex was the perfect ardent suitor and gentleman. He texted her good morning and good night, managing the time zones between them. Cecille was giddy and excited. It felt good to have someone dote on her again.
Then Alex began running into trouble. First his computer was hacked. It was the computer that he used to transact with his bank and accountant in New York. His account had to be frozen while the incident was being investigated. Then there was more trouble. He needed to pay a supplier. If he didn’t, the project would be delayed. He asked Cecille for a “bridge loan” to tide him over until the freeze on his accounts was lifted.
He asked Cecille if she could lend him $6,000.
“The thought of borrowing money from someone you have not even met raised suspicions, but I believed him more. I was actually more worried about the logistical constraints of remitting such a large amount of money.”
A former banker, Cecille was concerned about the possibility of triggering anti-money laundering laws. She asked a friend, also a former banker and tech whiz, how she could avoid money transfer problems.
Her friend was immediately alarmed. “You are not going to wire him a single centavo until I have cleared him,” he told Cecille, instructing her to send him all the photos she had of him.
A reverse Google search on the photos and a couple of hours was all it took to show that the photo actually belonged to an author on Amazon. “I checked the author’s blog on Amazon. There were some things that Alex even ripped off the blog. He told me he had a boat named Wayfinder, the author had a boat with the same name. Even his dog was allegedly named Bella was the same as the author’s.”
Cecille was shocked that someone would go to such extent and spend so much time to scam someone for money.
Cecille played along for awhile, leading Alex to believe that she was going to wire the money and he became more agitated the more she delayed. “He proposed all sorts of solutions like breaking up the amount into smaller transactions to avoid detection.”
Finally, Cecille ended it the same way it started, through a text message. “Oh, Alex, baby, did you really think that I didn’t know all this time?” The two blue check marks on WhatsApp confirmed that he had read the message. The silence after told her that he had blocked her.
Cecille became wary and cautious after that, but did not give up on online dating. She has been actively dating and has had her share of productive enjoyable dates. Reverse Google searches of photos have become a mandatory exercise before she engages with anyone she matches with. A number of photos still turn out to be fake though and it’s a reminder to never let her guard down again.
“I think it was my pride that was shot the most. In hindsight, I think two things I put on my profile made me a target for scammers. One, I put that I was an accomplished woman and two, I said that I was trying online dating for the first time. I admitted I was a virgin at – and naive about – online dating.” – Rappler.com
*Names have been changed to protect their privacy.
A Dutch national and four other persons were arrested, and several firearms and ammunition were confiscated in nearly two hours of separate police operations on Wednesday in San Francisco town in Camotes Islands in northern Cebu.
Niklaas Vondeling, 60, a Dutch national who is staying in Barangay Union, was arrested by a joint police team led by Chief Insp. Hector Amancia of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Mandaue City, said Senior Inspector Edwin Lacostales, CIDG-7 public information officer in a press briefing on Thursday.
Lacostales said the CIDG team served a search warrant against Vondeling at 10:25 a.m. on Wednesday.
Police confiscated from Vondeling a shotgun, a 9 mm pistol, 2 .45 caliber pistols, and ammunition for these firearms.
At 10:30 a.m., another CIDG-7 led team also served a search warrant against Benjie Castardo, 38, of Barangay Consuelo.
Castardo was arrested after the police team found and confiscated in Castardo’s house a .45 caliber pistol and ammunition.
At about the same time in the same barangay, police also arrested Jimmy Ibot, 46, after they found 2 .45 caliber pistols and ammunition in his house.
At 11:40 a.m. in Barangay Cagcagan, police arrested Allan Otadoy, 46, after they found a .45 caliber pistol and ammunition inside his house.
At 11:45 a.m. in Barangay Union, police also arrested Hanzel Benzig, 40, after a search in his house yielded a .357 Smith and Wesson revolver and ammunition inside his house.
Lacostales said Vondeling and the four other arrested persons were detained at the CIDG-7 office in Cebu City pending the filing of charges.
Lacostales said the separate operations were conducted as part of their Operation Paglalansag Omega, an operation against loose firearms.
Read more: https://cebudailynews.inquirer.net/157468/dutch-4-others-nabbed-illegal-firearms-ammunition-camotes-operation#ixzz5k7HKR8ba