Last Thursday was supposed to be my “payout” day for the “ripa/ repa” I joined. However, I am one of the thousands of Boholanos duped by people behind a new scam.
It was so late to notice some warning signs to watch out for – “too good to be true”, the resellers have no personality or capacity to refund the money, and pressure to “buy” the slots for a limited time.
It’s not about “phantom riches” but
unscrupulous people who will try to take advantage of people’s needs this pandemic.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned the public to be cautious in putting their money in investment instruments like “ripa” or “paluwagan,” an informal group money-lending system.
“Do not invest in schemes that are not registered, because you might find yourself on the losing end,” the agency said.
“If it is too good to be true, and the transaction is done in a discreet manner, the people should suspect [the legitimacy of the scheme],” it added.
The SEC has been raising alert over schemes, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic when people are looking for immediate sources of income.
A help center supervised by the provincial government, the police, NBI and the CIDG was put up to assist the victims. Local officials have urged other investors to file their complaints.
The scam takes off from the paluwagan, a traditional money-saving practice among groups whose members know one another, either because they are officemates or friends or they belong to a clan or family.
What lured many of the investors was the high returns received by those who joined the scheme earlier.
Members usually contribute to a pot of money that each of them will receive when their turn comes. The rotation is usually decided by drawing lots (ripa).
As practiced, ripa is built on trust and that no profit is promised because the total amount of the pot at a given time is the same that one will contribute over the entire life of the scheme.
In Bohol, the scheme has many “administrators” who are usually hiding from its investors.
A woman went to the provincial police headquarters at Camp Francisco Dagohoy last week, asking policemen to help her recover P35 million which was set to be returned to her clients whom she called “buyers.”
She said she failed to release the payout to her “buyers” when the administrators and coordinators disappeared.
“I have been receiving death threats from my buyers. If I can’t return the money or even the capital, they said they will kill me,” she said.
The woman said she didn’t know the “administrators” since she just remitted the money to a “coordinator.”
It was estimated that the “ripa” scheme duped over 1,000 Boholanos and amassed over P2 billion.
Remember, “if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Sa Bisaya pa, “Di na gyud ko muusab
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