CONMAN. Officials of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office present to reporters Jhon Carl Mendoza (center) alias Jay Lagrimas, the alleged ringleader of the 'pay-for-ayuda' syndicate victimizing Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) program beneficiaries. DSWD-10 Director Mari-flor Dollaga (upper right) also presented the suspect before DSWD chief Erwin Tulfo via online video conferencing Wednesday (July 20, 2022). (PNA photo by Nef Luczon)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – With the help of the police, the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Northern Mindanao  (DSWD-10) said it has stopped the entry of the notorious “pay-for-ayuda” syndicate posing as government social workers.

Maj. Mario Mantala, Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO) station 4 commander, said they arrested an alleged “pay-for-ayuda” syndicate member Jhon Carl Mendoza Tuesday here.

In a press briefing Wednesday, Mantala said Mendoza's eight accomplices evaded arrest. The group is originally from Luzon and had set up their safe house in the city recently.

Mantala said the group's modus involves posing as DSWD social workers promising unsuspecting victims of educational assistance and inclusion in the social amelioration program (SAP) in exchange for PHP300 to PHP500.

Police records indicated that there are some 150 complaints filed against Mendoza and his group. The group allegedly has amassed PHP1.2 million from their scheme over the years.

Lt. Col. Surki Sereñas, COCPO deputy director for administration, said Mendoza, who also carries the alias Jay Lagrimas, was presented to DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo via online video conferencing Wednesday.

Tulfo cautioned the public that DSWD never collects payments in exchange for its programs.

“We are warning all our countrymen that if someone comes to you and asks if you want to become part of 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program), the SAP, and Solo Parent Benefits Program for a fee, there is no truth in these because we would never ask for money,” Tulfo said.

DSWD-10 advised victims to visit their office in the city or other social welfare offices in the region should they decide to press charges. (PNA)