Scammer posing as DILG chief's aide falls in Pangasinan

By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

December 12, 2023, 5:28 pm

<p>DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. (right)<em> (PNA photo by Robert Oswald Alfiler)</em></p>

DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. (right) (PNA photo by Robert Oswald Alfiler)

MANILA – Authorities arrested a man who attempted to solicit money from victims by posing as chief of staff of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. in Pangasinan.

In a press briefing held at Camp Crame on Tuesday, Abalos presented the suspect Edison Montealto, 27, who was arrested in an entrapment in Lingayen town on Dec. 7.

Abalos said the suspect used the name Larry Abalos in his scheme.

“Yung aming mga telepono like sa calling card ko, nilalagay ko talaga yung telepono ko roon eh para kung meron gusto magreklamo, gusto ako tawagan. You could just imagine ilang tao nakaalam ng phone number ko kaya napakabilis eh. Pangalawa napapanood ka sa telebisyon, nakikita paano ka magsalita, nagagaya boses mo kayang kayang nila gayahin, so usually yun ang ginagawa nila (In my calling card, I actually put my phone number there so if anyone wants to complain, they can call me. You could just imagine how many people know my phone number so it was very fast. Second, I am being seen on television, people see how I speak and they can imitate your voice so it all happened fast, so that's what they usually do),” he said.

Abalos said the operation was hatched after some of his politician friends, including mayors and governors, were victimized by the suspect through asking for money using his name for a project.

“Sa isang gubernador yung una niyang tinawagan in the initial amount of (PHP30,000) through GCash followed by two consecutive requests of PHP30,000 so that's about PHP90,000. Doon naman sa isang mayor, PHP50,000 ang kanilang hiningi tapos may iba pa (The first one he called was a governor whom he asked for an initial amount of PHP30,000 through GCash followed by two consecutive requests for PHP30,000 so that's about PHP90,000. There, they asked a mayor for PHP50,000 and then some more),” he added.

The suspect has been charged with identity theft in relation to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, estafa and spoofing, while the police continue to investigate several individuals involved in the crime.

Abalos urged the public and government officials to beware of scammers using the names of government officials in their illegal activities. (PNA)