THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) announced Wednesday that it has apprehended three alleged Liberian nationals for estafa and attempted estafa in a posh hotel in Makati City last Monday.
Arrested in an entrapment operation conducted by the operatives of the NBI-National Capital Region on September 12 were John Polonius alias Steve Wilmont Brown, G. Ronald Clinton alias Steven Fraser, and Shun Cooper.
The case against the suspects stemmed from a complaint filed by Vijay Gurung, an Indian restaurateur who alleged that he was scammed by the foreign nationals who earlier identified themselves as Sudanese soldiers.
Gurung claimed that the foreigners, who were in possession of millions of stained US dollars, convinced him to give P140,000 to help in buying a chemical dye that will be used to remove the stain in their dollars.
The complainant gave money as the alleged scammers promised that they will invest in Gurung's restaurant business once their transaction with the US dollars materialized. However, after which, the alleged Liberian nationals once again asked for US$10,000 and P1 million. This prompted the complainant to report it to the NBI.
Authorities found in the foreign nationals' possession a vault, which contains fake dollars. Also seized was a one-faced identification card, which the NBI alleged to be fake. The ID belongs to a certain Steve Fraser, a diplomatic agent of the United States.
NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin said the suspects failed to present their passports but identified themselves as Liberian nationals. He further added that the NBI is now coordinating with the Bureau of Immigration to know the nationality and the travel records of the suspects.
The three suspects who were present at the NBI press conference denied their involvement in the crime.
Clinton, one of the suspects, told reporters that they only visited the country for a vacation. He also said that they do not know the complainant and that they do not own the fake dollars.
"It is not ours. We don’t know the guy. We are all innocent. I can assure you," Clinton said.
The NBI spokesperson said that the NBI is now trying to figure if the foreign nationals are connected to the earlier syndicate busted by the NBI.
"This is a big crime. We are now trying to figure out who are their connections in the Philippines, whether or not meron silang kasabwat dito na locals," Lavin said.
"We're trying to piece the puzzle together kung kunektado sa kanila lahat ng nahuli na budol budol gang," he added.
Charges for estafa, attempted estafa through falsification, and violation of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Circular 829 were filed against the suspects at the Makati City Prosecutors Office.
Estafa is a bailable offense. After posting bail, the foreign nationals can fly out of the country. (Sunnex)