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PNP, NBI warn vs scammers posing as BBM’s spox, other personalities

May 17, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 332 views

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Tuesday warned anew the public to be wary of a group of online scammers using the name of Attorney Vic Rodriguez, chief of staff and spokesperson of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (BBM) to solicit money from unsuspecting people.

The scammers are using the name of Atty. Rodriguez, the incoming Executive Secretary of BBM’s administration to extort money from their targets in the guise of “helping the poor” and most lately, purportedly to raise funds for victims of tropical storm “Agaton”.

It turned out that some con artists have created a fake Facebook account using the name of Rodriguez and are making it appear the lawyer is soliciting money from their targets who are mostly wealthy businessmen and are “die-hard” BBM supporters.

The computer-related identity theft and online fraud has reached the attention of Atty. Rodriguez, sought the assistance of the PNP and the NBI in investigating the matter and putting the persons behind the scam behind bars.

His name is also being used by the scammers, PNP Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant General Vicente D. Danao Jr. said they have received information about the scam and has tasked the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Robert T. Rodriguez to investigate the social media accounts of the scammers.

“We will see to it that these scammers will be fully unmasked and charged in court,” said Lt. Gen. Danao.

The NBI, for its part, has already filed charges against two suspects accused of using the name of Atty. Rodriguez to scam people online.

One of the two suspects, identified as Caseilyn Cardenas, a 31-year-old resident of Morales Street in Barangay Lolomboy, Bocaue, Bulacan was arrested in an entrapment operation last April 18 and is now facing criminal charges for violation of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and attempted estafa in relation to RA 10175.

The woman was arrested following a complaint filed by Atty. Rodriguez and the chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption Arsenio “Boy” Evangelista, said NBI OIC (Officer-in-Charge) Atty. Eric Distor.

Cardenas, who has vehemently denied the charges against her, was arrested in an entrapment operation triggered by the complaint that the fictitious Facebook account with the username “Vic Rodriguez” is being used to defraud BBM supporters by asking for money supposedly for use in relief operations.

The Facebook poser gave unsuspecting victims bank accounts for which the money will be coursed through BDO Account No. 002430167693 under account name Jennylyn E. Complido and BDO Account No. 002430167685 under the account name Caseilyn dela Cruz Cardenas, the NBI reported.

The fictitious FB user asked for P120,000 from Evangelista, the money supposedly to be used to pay for the shipping of relief goods, including tons of rice intended for Agaton’s victims.

Recovered from the suspect’s possession were an iPhone 6, an ATM card, and a remittance receipt.

The same FB account was monitored to be also soliciting money for an alleged “victory party” for BBM.

The NBI on Tuesday eventually discovered that a certain Jose Angeles Villafuerte alias “Ryan Ace Castillejo/Kiko” is the mastermind behind the scam and is the “user” of the fake Vic Rodriguez FB account.

Villafuerte was found to be being held at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology-National Capital Region (BJMP-NCR) facility in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City.

NBI agents, backed up by BJMP personnel, conducted a “surprise” inspection of the BJMP facility on Monday morning and discovered that Villafuerte has already been transferred to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor)-Reception Diagnostic Center on November 11, 2021.

His transfer was ordered by Judge Teresa Partimonio-Soriaso of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 27 following his conviction for a qualified theft case.

NBI officers, with the assistance of the BuCor, conducted another surprise inspection of Building 2A of the New Bilibid Prison’s (NBP) Maximum Security Compound and arrested Villafuerte after a search of his cell that resulted in the confiscation of a purple Huawei Nova 5T, a blank notebook, a green notebook, a yellow tickler paid, a coverless tickler pad, and a piece of wood with an improvised hidden storage room for a mobile phone.

No SIM card nor a mobile Wi-Fi gadget were recovered during the search.

The NBI said that Villafuerte was positively identified as the man posing as “Atty. Vic Rodriguez” on Facebook. He was also found to be posing as “Vicente Danao Jr.” and “Louise Liza Araneta Marcos” as well as “Zandro Marcos”, “Jejomar Binay”, “Bureau of Customs Commission[er] Rey Guerrero”, and “Mayor Vico Sotto” of Pasig City.

As of press time, the NBI said it is still investigating, in coordination with the BuCor, how Villafuerte could possess a mobile phone while in jail and how he could use the same to commit a crime despite the presence of signal jammers installed at the NBP.

The confiscated pieces of evidence are now undergoing examination. The seized mobile phone has been submitted to a data examination to establish the names of other cohorts of the suspect and the extent of his fraudulent transactions needed for the filing of criminal charges against them. By Alfred Dalizon