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Willing victims

08 June 2019

By Daisy Catherine L. Mandap

It’s a tale as old as time, or a story told so often it has lost its punch.

This is all about how people succumb to promises of getting massive returns on their money through such illegal means as pyramiding that they ignore all the warning signs - until they lose even the shirt on their backs.

As wary observers say, they become “willing victims” of the illicit schemes.

Often, they know there is a risk that they could lose all their hard-earned money in the get-rich-quick schemes but they gamble away, anyway.

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A few unwitting ones do get hoodwinked into joining the more elaborate scams, but after being warned, choose to stay put, and even entice others to join in.

It’s easy to see why. The promised returns are high and the recruiters are so persistent and are not above sugar-coating their own earnings that many are easily hooked.

But once they enter the web of deceit, many find it difficult to get out. They realize that if they want to get the promised return they need to get more people to believe in the fallacy.

Such was the case of Emgoldex which collapsed spectacularly four years ago, bringing down with it hundreds, if not thousands of investors, along with their money.


In Hong Kong alone, about 500 migrant workers lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the scam, but never got close to getting anyone held responsible for their losses.

But Filipinos, including our migrant workers, never learn. Many continue to put money in shady investment deals on the mere say-so of a friend, or people they meet only on social media.

Worse, when warned by even the very government agency tasked to protect investors’ interest in the Philippines, they brush off the message, and accuse naysayers of spreading wrong information and ill-will.

Until the new pyramid of greed comes crashing down again.

We see the inevitable happening again in the case of Kapa Worldwide Ministry, which lost its license to operate on Apr 4. In an en banc ruling, the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that Kapa had used its fake religious mantle to sell investments without a license.

The strongly-worded decision said the forfeiture of the license was done so Kapa “can no longer perpetrate its fraudulent and misleading acts through the privilege granted to it by the State.”

But the stern warning did not seem to deter those who are in the Kapa web, including many migrant workers in Hong Kong.

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When Labor Attache Jolly dela Torre posted a warning on his Facebook account many rushed to defend the group that purports to be a religious group but is such a sham that it does not even have a church or congregation, and does not involve itself in any religious activity.

The defense follows a well-used track: Why stop the little people from making a little money so they can improve their lives? Or, this group has already helped so many poor people, why do you want to throttle it?

For OFWs, the come-on can be found right on Kapa’s website that offers bare details of the group’s operations, but is replete with promised “blessings”. One only has to join the network for a year or so to reap enough financial rewards to go home for good.

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This brings to mind another trite saying: “If it’s too good to be true, then it is probably a scam.”

In Kapa’s case, the use of religion, plus the lack of attempt to use networking, or of rewarding people on a sliding scale as in a pyramid, smack of even greater greed and audacity.

This means, all the money that people put into the network went only to one person, and that is Kapa’s founder, Joel Apolinario, a self-proclaimed pastor, scientist and inventor. Kapa’s website does not even bother to cover this up, saying all the donations go to Apolinario as “donee.”

Any right-thinking investor would immediately scamper away on seeing this, but it seems people eager to get the promised 30% (or more) monthly “blessing” on their donation are more intent on looking the other way.

Many do not even flinch when confronted with Kapa’s blatant use of religion to fleece people of their money. It even seems like losing money through a “donation” has become more acceptable than losing it through gambling.

But what boggles the mind is why, of the three million Filipinos who have supposedly invested in Kapa, not one has come out lately to complain about not receiving the promised “blessing”? Why is Apolinario still free to woo investors, and even blast the SEC for revoking his license?

This could only be because there are people in high places who are heavily invested in Kapa. It is to their advantage that the network holds up long enough for them to take their money and run.

But again, as they say, what goes up must come down. Karma is real, especially for those who have the temerity to exploit people’s faith to make money.

So those who are with Kapa now should make sure they get out, fast. Or they would surely end up holding an empty bag, as did the many other willing victims before them.

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