Eight Filipino Americans — including two pastors — lost $220,500 after falling for a bank account scam.
The victims handed over the cash believing they would receive a share of $30 billion supposedly trapped in a Thai bank account.
At a press conference today (Thursday, December 21), Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre presented alleged conman Necasio Nazareno.
He was arrested during an entrapment operation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) Anti-Fraud Division earlier today.
Aguirre said the operation stemmed from a complaint by Alejandre Bugarin, a Filipino businessman who has been living in the US for the past 10 years.
Bugarin said he came to know Nazareno through his friend Pastor Gavino Ronquillo back in August 2016.
“He was recommended to me by a friend,” said Bugarin, referring to Ronquillo.
The suspect claimed he had an account at the HSBC bank in Thailand which contained $30 billion.
Bugarin said the suspect was able to take a total of $220,500 from him and seven others, including six fellow Filipino-Americans.
He said he was convinced to shell out money because of bank documents shown to him by Nazareno. However, he admitted that he only saw them via Facebook and Viber.
Bugarin said Ronquillo told him that the original holder of the account had died and left the fortune to Nazareno.
Ronquillo told Bugarin that he couldn’t afford to go to Thailand to withdrawal of the deposit.
Because of this, Ronquillo convinced Bugarin to give Nazareno two million pesos to cover travel and other costs.
In exchange, the victim was told he would get one per cent, or $300 million.
Bugarin said he fell for the bank account scam because Ronquillo was his friend and virtual copies of documents were sent to him. The NBI has examined these documents and declared them to be fakes.
The victim decided to return home to the Philippines and seek NBI help after his promised fortune failed to materialise.
Aguirre said Nazareno has been subjected for inquest before the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office for estafa, or fraud, charges.
Apart from the $220,500 estafa case, the NBI also learned that the suspect already had a criminal record, with three other cases pending against him in court.