After 1 month, mental scars linger for ‘ripa’ victims

By Marisol Bo-oc, Helen Castaño | 09:56 PM November 09, 2021

One month has passed since “ripa” scam brough havoc in the province.

But Maria (family name withheld) has still to get over the loss of her P14 million to her administrator.

“The pain is unbearable every day. Each day I want to end my life. Daghan kaayo mga buyer magsige pangita sa ilang kuwarta, gihulga nako nga patyon kung dili nako mauli,” said the 34-year-old online seller.

Beyond the insults and threats from her buyers, it was also a harrowing assault on the victim’s psyche that produced enduring mental scars.

At least 1,200 people were victimized by the ripa scam. Some of the victims invested about P40 million, P14 million, and the lowest investment was P100,000.

The suspects promised them that their money will earn 10 to 300 percent depending on the duration of their investment.

Maria and other victims are still hoping that the suspects will return their money.

“One month na nga nangadto mi sa Camp Francisco Dagohoy Heaquarters to ask help from police to recover the money. Mao musamot kasakit akong dughan,” shared Maria who slowly paid her buyers by selling ukay-ukay and ready-to -wear.

Maria said she was not even sure until when she could carry the burden.

“Wala nako kasabot sa akong life,” she said. “Hinaot unta madakpan na ang mga admin nga nang scam namo.”

On his Facebook post on Tuesday, lawyer Julius Gregory Delgado of the Provincial Legal Office said at least 1,000 individuals were assisted for their free legal services.

“Task Force Heart of Justice on Repa/Repa Paluwagan Investment Ponzi Scheme – We have concluded our Case Build-up and officially indorsed and forwarded the Affidavits of the victims and copies of the SEC Negative Certification to CIDG-Bohol led by Lt. Col. Saturnino Estigoy witnessed by Board Member Ricky Masamayor, Chairman of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on Public Safety, Peace and Order, and representatives of the victims,” Delgado said.

From October 11-28, 2021, Delgado said he and other lawyers had assisted more than a thousand victims, gathered boxes reseller/buyer affidavits and identified 202 ripa administrators.

” The ball is now in the hands of the CIDG-Bohol. It is expected that more cases will be filed to ferret out the truth and pin down the perpetrators of this Ponzi Investment Scheme which amassed a total of Php 715, 001,496.00 from our Boholanos brothers and sisters, ” Delgado said.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) – Bohol had filed cases against 15 resellers.

According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), a financial inclusion survey found that 4% of adult Pinoys save money through the paluwagan system, while 9% have bank savings. said “ripa” works based on trust and commitment among its participants who are typically friends, neighbors, co-workers, or classmates. A group consists of at least three members who pool their contributions into a common fund and take turns receiving the lump-sum payout weekly, twice a month, or monthly. A cycle goes on until the last member in the queue gets paid.

“Ripa” can be a risky venture for many reasons. Consider its drawbacks before you join.

In the Philippines aren’t registered and regulated by any government agency like the BSP, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) , and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) . They operate based only on verbal agreement among members. No legal contracts are used.

SEC has warned the public against groups sending invitations to invest in “online paluwagan” circles reveals how the familiar group and investment savings system has survived and evolved to embrace the rise of the internet and social media.

The resellers supposedly lure investors into joining paluwagan circles with promising returns upon their payout schedules. The scammers peddle promises of returns based on exorbitant interest rates, ranging from as 10 percent up to 757 percent.

However, the administrators in charge of redistributing the payouts are unable to refund the entire amount owed to the participants.

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