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Police called to stop alleged Pinoy pyramid scam

19 September 2017

By Vir B.Lumicao

A group of migrant workers who claimed they were victims of a pyramid scheme called the police after cornering their alleged swindler in the midst of his business presentation to would-be investors at a coffee shop in Central on Sept 3.

However, their quarry whom they identifed in Facebook posts as July Macapas was eventually sent home by the police for “lack of a case”.

The incident happened at around 11:45 am at a Starbucks outlet on Manly building on Des Voeux Road, while Macapas was reportedly introducing his investment plan to about a dozen people.

The women, part of an estimated 40 alleged victims of Macapas, told the officers Macapas was the founder of Team Donatos, a pyramid operation that had invited scores of OFWs to invest in his quick-rich scheme, one of the victims told The SUN.

Officers found transaction receipts totaling Php500,000 issued by Macapas and his wife to investors in the couple’s luggage. The documents were proof the victims had invested in Macapas’ scheme, which called for a Php10,500 “pay-in” that would grow into Php90,000 in just three months.

Macapas was escorted by the officers out of the coffee shop away from his detractors.

However, the police later said in reply to an inquiry by The SUN that the incident was just a “dispute” between a man and a woman and that “there was no case.”

Before the day was over, video clips of the “arrest” went viral on Facebook, with vengeful commenters— alleged victims or plain kibitzers—heaping accusations of greed and deception against Macapas.

The SUN contacted one of those who posted a comment — Fe Masiba, an alleged victim who claimed Macapas had disappeared with her Php10,500—and asked about her video post on Facebook.

In her reply two days later, Masiba said Macapas was taken to the police station where officers took his statement. But the police sent him home afterwards because, accordingly, they didn’t have jurisdiction over his case.

“Nalaman namin na papunta siya rito kaya nagkasundo kami (ng ibang mga biktima) na ipapulis (siya). Hindi siya umamin sa pulis sa kasalanan niya, pero nakita ng mga pulis ang mga resibo na nakapangalan sa kanya at sa kanyang asawa,” Masiba said.

She said Macapas founded Team Donatos after promoting a previous gold-trading pyramid scheme called Global InterGold. This time, he came to Hong Kong offering slots in Monspace, a get-rich-quick cryptocurrency operation in Kuala Lumpur.

There seems to be no stopping Macapas. In a Facebook post on Sept 12, he said he would travel to Malaysia later this month. “On the way to Malaysia to 3rd year anniversary Monspace Malaysia! September 28 to Oct 2, 2017,” he proclaimed.

In another FB post on Sept 11, he was inviting the public to invest in his new “special offer”, a cryptocurrency called Anniversary Indonesia Declaration Currency.

“GET YOUR AIDC NOW! While Supply Last! ± 9,300 = 2,900 MSD YOU NEED ± 66,700  JUST TO GET 2,900 MSDOLLAR,” his offer read.

The Macapas couple is facing three criminal complaints of “syndicated estafa/swindling” filed by three groups of Team Donatos investors in the Quezon City Prosecutors Office in August and December 2016, according to a Facebook post by a concerned group of alleged scam victims.

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