Press Release
November 21, 2014

Avoid scam artists, Villar urges OFW families

Senator Cynthia A. Villar warned families of overseas Filipino workers against dealing with scam artists who are out to profit from the monthly dollar remittances that they receive from abroad.

The warning was issued during a forum sponsored by the Villar SIPAG Foundation in partnership with the Blas F. Ople Policy Center entitled, "Huwag Magpaloko: A Forum Against Scams Targetting OFWs and Their Families" held at the Sipag Center in Las Piñas City. Over two hundred OFW families attended the forum.

The senator cited her Foundation's own experience in dealing with a text scam that send out fake notices through SMS about a raffle contest where "winners" were instructed to get in touch with a certain person in order to claim a prize.

Villar said that her office had reported this scam to the Department of Trade and Industry and various law enforcement agencies, and had even taken out print advertisements to advice people not to believe the text scam.

She lamented that too many Filipinos including OFWs have become victims of SMS-based and online scams. "Do not be so trusting especially when dealing with complete strangers," Villar reminded the OFW families.

PNP Police Inspector Jay Guillermo gave the same advice to OFW families while sharing current scams including a so-called "romance scam". The "romance scam" involves the use of social media platforms such as Facebook by criminal elements including Nigerians to court Filipino women and engage them in cyber romance. Once the women fall in love with the cyber "Romeo", the latter would request for money so that he could have his visa processed so that he can travel to Manila for a romantic tryst. Guillermo said that several women have become victims of online romance scams.

Financial adviser Estelle Ople Osorio, founder of Biz Whiz Consultancy, urged OFWs to undertake research on a corporation's background before parting with their hard-earned money. "If the person or company is promising guaranteed high returns on your financial investment, be extremely wary and double check their offer and the background of the company with government agencies such as the Securities Exchange Commission and the Department of Trade and Industry. If the offer is too good to be true, you are likely dealing with a scam artist," Osorio stressed.

The POEA, on the other hand, warned overseas job applicants to deal only with licensed recruitment agencies bearing legitimate job orders. POEA information officer Moira Idiesca encouraged job applicants to call the POEA hotlines: 722-1144 & 722-1155 from 8 AM to 8 PM for inquiries or to download the POEA mobile app.

Senior Agent Atty. Normando Anire of the National Bureau of Investigation assured OFW families that his agency is actively investigating several scams. OFW families are natural targets of scam artists, he said, because of their remittances.

The Villar SIPAG Foundation in partnership with the Blas F. Ople Policy Center intends to hold similar anti-scams seminars for OFW families in other parts of the country.

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