CEBU

Criminal cases await ‘God’s Coop’

ASIDE from multiple estafa cases, God the Father Almighty Credit Cooperative (GTFACC) may also face charges for allegedly violating Batas Pambansa (BP) 22, or the Bouncing Checks Law, and for allegedly committing car theft.

Chief Master Sergeant Deo Clarin, chief investigator of the Labangon Police Station, said they are working on documents required to file separate estafa cases.

“I have already advised them (complainants) to send a demand letter to the cooperative. The demand letter is required for filing an estafa case. Some said they were given reimbursements through check, but these checks bounced. So I told them to secure a bank certification proving that their check bounced. That constitutes a violation of BP 22,” he said.

Marie (not her real name), 43, is one of the latest complainants against GFACC.

According to the Lapu-Lapu City resident, her cousin, a coop member, convinced her to join so she could be eligible for an auto loan.

She said she paid the P3,500 membership fee and made a P400,000 down payment on the vehicle she wanted to purchase on March 2, 2019.

Until now, she has yet to get the unit.

“They just kept on promising us refunds, but I am doubtful... By May 2, after two months, they were supposed to give me the promised unit. For my safety, I already consulted the police. I am willing to sue them. Our hard-earned money is what’s at stake,” she said.

GTFACC, founded by Pastor Chris Tundag, is a religious organization that started offering motorcycle and car loans to its members sometime in 2018, she said.

Clarin told SunStar Cebu that one of the coop’s clients, whom he did not identify, was issued a carnapped vehicle as a substitute for the car it failed to issue her.

“When this client complained about the delay of the unit, the coop delivered to her house a car which, they told her, she could temporarily use while waiting for the new one. The victim reportedly sold her old car to finance her car loan. A few days after, police told her that the substitute car was carnapped,” he said.

According to him, the victims may file individual criminal cases as they have different transactions of varying amounts with the coop.

He said a cousin of Tundag, whom he did not name, told him Tundag was involved in another estafa case in Bohol before organizing GFACC in Barangay Tisa.

Last May 28, before the coop office was closed, some members gathered at the Tisa barangay hall after they were told by the management that they would be refunded that day.

“They were told to wait until 11 a.m. because the coop would distribute P400,000 among members as initial refund. But there was still no money by 3 p.m. A legal officer of the coop called us requesting for the rescue of their staff as the victims would not allow them to leave the hall,” Clarin said.

Police Major Henrix Bancoleta, Labangon Police Station chief, said they will forward the collated reports and complaints to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 7 for a joint investigation.

Last Friday, June 14, Tundag, through an official statement sent to SunStar Cebu, said the coop was also a victim of fraud.

However, Paul James Catian, a coop member and the “whistleblower,” scoffed at the idea.

“Karon na na sila nanghunaw nga biktima sad sila (So now they’re washing their hands of the whole thing),” Catian said.

He said if the coop was really sincere, it should have contacted members and clients instead of not communicating with them after they filed their demand for refunds.

If they hadn’t gone to authorities, the coop would not have taken action on their predicament, he said.

Catian said their group is still demanding a refund, adding that they don’t care if GFACC is also a victim.

“The coop received our money, so it should be the one to blame. We do not care about its supplier. That’s its problem,” he said in Cebuano.

Tundag said he understood the lament of members and clients, which was why he sought the authorities’ help to find his supplier.

He said they initially planned to refund those who purchased motorcycles in 15 days and those who purchased four-wheeled vehicles in 30 days to allow them time to get the money back from the supplier.

He said they issued checks to some members, believing the money would be in the bank when the members cashed these. However, the supplier did not follow through with their agreement, Tundag said.

There was no cash in the bank and the checks bounced, he said, adding that the account is now closed.

Tundag said his camp is taking legal action to clear his and the coop’s name. (WBS, JJL)


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