Woman faces estafa charges in Baguio

BAGUIO CITY  – The city prosecutor’s office recommended the filing of estafa charges against a businesswoman after she allegedly divested from three individuals over P2 million in their hard earned money when it determined probable cause in the said case.

In a 5-page resolution penned by Deputy City Prosecutor Conrado V. Catral, Jr., the estafa charges were filed against Joy Vera Ban-eg while similar charges against Karen Puguon were dismissed for lack of probable cause.

The resolution stated that Ban-eg’s non-submission of the required controverting evidence had worked against her favour, as the evidence against her remains unrefuted and after an assiduous examination of the allegations of the complainants, as well as the documentary evidence that they had adduced against her, there was probable cause against her for estafa.

Catral cited that what transpired in the case was a classic Ponzi scheme, as thus illustrated by the Supreme Court in the case of People versus Balansa, and what was evident was that what they offered was a Ponzi scheme or an investment program that offers impossibly high returns in pays these returns to early investors out of the capital contributed by later investors.

However, the resolution cited that the Ponzi scheme works only as long as there is an ever increasing number of new investors joining the scheme.

“There is no other way than to construe the evidence adduced against respondent Ban-eg as estafa under the provisions of Article 315, 2(a), as she had made representations that she had qualifications in business via an investment scheme where the complainants money or investments would double in two to three months time, which turned to be a ficticious investment, and a pure misrepresentation, as Abundance is not even registered with the SEC as an investment house, and as she failed to comly with her promises to the complainants when she did not return their investments, or give their promised payouts, which was the deception that was effected upon them, and which caused their damage and prejduce,” Catral stated.

Unlike Ban-eg, however, the resolution found that respondent Puguon actually was working for Ban-eg on a commission basis and that her services was precisely commissioned by Ban-eg only for the sole purpose of Puguon accomdating Ban-eg client’s for the simple reason that Puguon’s office at the BARP was accessible to Ban-eg’s clients but how Abundance operated was plain and simply Ban-eg’s ruse, for which reason, she ought to be solely responsible.

The resolution added Ban-eg orchestrated the operation of Abundance, in Pugon was a mere employee, a pawn, whom Ban-eg used in her malevolent designs, thus, there is a lack of probable cause to indict Puuon as a co-respondent of Ban-eg.

The case stemmed from the complaints filed by Darwin del Rosario, Pauline Sumeg-ang and Abigail Sumeg-ang Changat who alleged that Ban-eg divested from them a total of P2 million with a promised high return of interests that turned out to be false in the end.

It was learned that Puguon introduced to the complainants the operation of Abundance International, an alleged investment firm, which doubled any investment in three months and they were informed that the firm was also engaged in foreign exchange.

Convincded by the proposal, together with several others, the complainants attended a seminar where, again, Ban-eg and Puguon explained why foreign exchange trading was a veritable gold mine in investments. To prove their point in convincing the complainants, Ban-eg even presented to complainant’s an investment account of her son with Metrobank where she allegedly places her son’s investments.

The complaints were able to place a total investment of more than P2 million to the company and they were then issued checks corresponding to their investments and the supposed interests.

The checks were allegedly drawn from Ban-eg’s account, under her married name, Vera Joy B. Bungayon but the complainants were not able to present such checks at the bank on their due dates upon Ban-eg’s representations that the money was ready and will be given them by November 2015. Instead, the checks were reportedly replaced to other dates in November 2015.

By August or September, however, Ban-eg claimed that her son had dengue and she likewise fell ill to the said disease, thus, the complainants never proceeded to the bank to have their checks encashed out of compassion for Ban-eg’s plight.

When the checks becaome due in November 2015, complainants went to the bank to encash the checks, but the same were dishonoured for having been drawn against a closed account. Despite written and verbal notices and demand for a return of their investments, the same proved futile.

Of the two respondents, only Puguon complied with the prosecutor’s directive to file their respective counter-affidavits. The cases against Ban-eg will therefore be resolved on the basis of the evidence on record.

As per the rules, Ban-eg’s failure to submit controverting evidence despite the opportunity to do so is deemed a waiver on her part to do so.

By Herald Express News Team

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