Couple nabbed in P900-million bitcoin scam

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A Bitcoin (virtual currency) coin is seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, June 23, 2017. -- REUTERS

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) arrested a couple allegedly responsible for a multi-million scam involving the virtual currency bitcoin.

The suspects, identified as Arnel and Leonady Ordonio, registered owners of NewG company, were apprehended in an entrapment operation last April 4 in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. They were charged with syndicated estafa before the Office of the Special Prosecutors for amassing P900 million from more than 50 victims.

The couple purportedly promised the victims of 30% return of investment after 16 days, with P90,000 to P160,000 as capital. The investment scam, which operated via social media, victimized individuals from various locations.

Sa una ibibigay niya muna (earnings), first at saka second. After that, mawawala na siya. This is a simple case ng estafa at saka pyramiding kasi meron silang upline, may downline,” CIDG Police Director Roel B. Obusan said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

(Initially they will give the earnings, the first and the second. After that, they disappear. This is a simple case of estafa and pyramiding because it has upline and downline.)

One of the victims, Ms. Rosanne Maglunot, a resident of Malolos City in Bulacan, said she and her relatives invested P29 million after she was invited by a trusted friend. She and her husband invested P4 million in November last year for a “personal slot” or the arrangement for participants who cannot invite other people as downline.

Ms. Maglunot said she started suspecting the legitimacy of the scheme in December when her upline failed to give her earnings, but she was promised that the issue will be fixed by January.

“We were able to talk to Arnel Ordonio through Facebook Messenger… and he promised P3 million every five days para lang mabalik yung kapital. So nung hindi na natupad ‘yon, humingi na kami ng tulong from (PSUPT. Heryl L.) Bruno of PNP Malolos para makarating na sa sitwasyon na ‘to,” Ms. Maglunot said.

(We were able to talk to Arnel Ordonio through Facebook Messenger… and he promised P3 million every five days just so he can return the capital. When that did not happen, we sought the help of [PSUPT. Heryl L.] Bruno of PNP Malolos which led to this situation.)

Bitcoins is used mainly in online transactions and investment due to its fluctuating value. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has issued guidelines last year to regulate bitcoin exchanges in the country. — Minde Nyl R. Dela Cruz