More complainants come out against pyramid scam leader

THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Bacolod said four more Negrenses have come out to file cases against the chief executive officer and chairman of Juan Pinoy Investment Ventures, Inc.

Jorge Obenita III was arrested Tuesday and charged for alleged large scale estafa and for violation of Republic Act 8799 or Securities Regulation Code.

NBI investigator Aristedes Bañares said the four complainants told him they will formally file their respective complaints against Obenita. They accused him of failing to pay for their payouts.

More downline members of the alleged pyramiding scam are also expected to come and the NBI is open to assisting them, Bañares said.

The NBI arrested Obenita based on the complaints of the first five investors who filed their complaints with the NBI.

Eduardo Tacdoro, who claimed to be a victim of Obenita, said that his investment with Juan Pinoy has already reached to P14,000.

It only started with P500 and almost daily, they give him additional money because Obenita introduces a new product every day.

Tacdoro said a friend invited him to the seminar of Obenita and he was convinced of his explanation. Aside from the products, Obenita, in one of their meetings, allegedly challenged them that if they invest P10,000 with Juan Pinoy, he will return it as P50,000 on December 16.

Obenita also reportedly encouraged them to recruit downline members and if they cannot recruit, they cannot avail of the payout. He said that he received a payout once but has not had received any more for more than a month now.

Bañares said that based on the accounts of complainants, Obenita's operation is "actually a pyramiding scam in the guise of selling some products like soap, massage oil, lotion and whitening cream but the main source of income of the investors does not come from the sale of the products but on the act of recruiting others. Based on our investigation, the soap is priced at P300 each without BFAD's (Bureau of Food and Drugs) approval."

Bañares said that Juan Pinoy is a legitimate company as it is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"The company is allowed to engage in the selling of products but under its Articles of Incorporation, it is not allowed, authorized or licensed to engage in soliciting investment from the public," Bañares explained.

He also revealed that since the company is a corporation, they are comprised of five incorporators that's why Obenita was the one arrested first but the four other incorporators are included on the charge sheet.

Also included in the charges were other Juan Pinoy executives: Jonathan Jesus Navea of Cubao, Quezon City; Lorena Caronan of Marikina City; Susan Aquino of Caloocan City, and Evelyn Gudio, also of Caloocan City. 

Aside from the complainant- victims from Bacolod, the NBI officer revealed that there are other victims in Cebu and in Manila because Obenita also operates in these areas.

The NBI also suspects that millions of pesos could be involved in Obenita's operation.

For his side, Obenita said that his company is legitimate and registered. In fact there were already several investors who received the payout on time. He explained that those who are complaining have invested in another scheme and the P1,000 they paid are membership entry to the company.

In selling the products, the investors are even more than paid out and enjoy additional incentives or commission if they have recruits. He said that the company has been operating for six months. (TDE)

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