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368 jail term each for 4 ‘pyramid scam’ leaders
By Manolo B. Jara December 05, 2018
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MANILA: A Metro Manila regional court sentenced four leaders of a criminal syndicate to serve a jail term of 368 years each after they were found guilty in a “get rich quick scheme” totalling $60 million that victimized more than 4,000 Filipinos, most of them soldiers and policemen.

Meted out the stiff prison terms as well as the payment of heavy fines by the regional court in suburban Quezon City Metro Manila were Emilia Sison, Ireneo Sison , Mirasol Aguilar and Marilo Cabalo after they were found guilty of estafa beyond reasonable doubt.

The court said government prosecutors succeeded in proving that the accused set up a company to engage in trading and exporting goods such as garden decor, agricultural products, leather, fashion accessories and food supplement.

Investments

In its decision, the court pointed out that while the firm was not authorized to solicit investments from the public, it, however, succeeded in doing so by luring soldiers and policemen to invest a minimum of $1,000 each with a “guaranteed” profit of from eight to 15 percent a month.

However, the principal amount could only be withdrawn by an investor after six month, according to the signed agreement.

Cheques

As a guarantee, the company issued post-dated cheques in the form of monthly interest to each investor. But the complainants said the checks issued later bounced.

“This is a story of people wanting quick wealth on one side and people robbing off that wealth on the other side,” the court ruled in its 47-page decision rendered more than 17 years after the criminal charges were filed in September 2002.

It added: “The strategy used by the accused...is akin to the so-called Ponzi scheme,” referring to the popular name of the unlawful scheme that promises unsuspecting victims a quick return on their investments due to high interest rates.

Court records also showed that at the peak of its operations in the early 2000s, the syndicate duped at least 4,000 mostly police and military officers who said they invested their hard-earned savings as well as loans hey had incurred so they could invest at the company.

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