SCAM. Photo shows mug shots of alleged “investment scam” agents Leonard Patacsil (left) and Christian Dave Ramilo (right) who were arrested by National Bureau of Investigation agents in an entrapment operation in General Santos City on Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 19, 2021). The two reportedly solicited investments from residents for a Koronadal City-based company. (Photo courtesy of the NBI-Sarangani District Office)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested two alleged “investment scam” agents in an entrapment operation here on Tuesday afternoon.

Lawyer Regner Peneza, head of NBI-Sarangani District Office (Sardo), said on Wednesday they collared suspects Leonard Patacsil and Christian Dave Ramilo as they were about to receive investment money from one of their victims at a convenience store in Barangay Lagao past 2 p.m.

He said the operation stemmed from a complaint filed by a local resident who claimed to have already “invested” over PHP500,000 with the suspects.

The amount was supposedly deposited to the “WIN 2 IT” investment company based in Koronadal City, with a promise of a 100-percent interest payout in 25 to 30 days, he said.

Peneza said the complainant, who reported the matter to their office last week, started investing in tranches with the two suspects last July 8, from as low as PHP100 and up to PHP500,000.

“Instead of giving the promised payout, the suspects reportedly asked for an additional PHP300,000, prompting the victim to seek our help,” Peneza told Philippine News Agency in an interview.

The official said they set up the entrapment on Tuesday afternoon after the two agreed to meet the victim at a 7-Eleven outlet along the national highway in Barangay Lagao.

He said their agents arrested the suspects after receiving the PHP50,000 marked bills and eventually came out positive with powder dust.

Peneza said they are currently digging deeper into the activities of the two, who are detained at the NBI-Sardo office here.

He said they are currently determining the other possible victims and the amount already received by Patacsil and Ramilo, who are residents of Cotabato City and Davao City, respectively.

The NBI agents found a media identification card from Ramilo as a correspondent of the Mindanao Daily and Business Week Mindanao newspapers based in Cagayan de Oro City.

But a source from the publication denied knowing the suspect, who claimed to have been working as a freelance advertising agent for its Davao bureau.

Patacsil and Ramilo denied the accusations in brief media statements and said they were not working for the "WIN 2 IT" investment company.

Peneza said they are set to file syndicated estafa charges against the suspects at the city prosecutor’s office.

He said they have also launched an investigation into the activities of “WIN 2 IT” and are specifically checking if it has a secondary license to operate as an investment company from the Securities and Exchange Commission. (PNA)