BAGUIO CITY – A top official of the famous Ponzi investment firm, Satarah Wellness Marketing, who had been hiding from the long arms of the law for several months was successfully arrested by combined police operatives and intelligence agents in Cavite Tuesday.
Romelyn Batolne Lau and her sister, two of the accused incorporators of the Ponzi firm, were arrested by intelligence agents of the Cordillera office of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI-CAR) based on numerous warrants of arrest for syndicated estafa after having divested from their willing victims billions of pesos in hard earned money with a promised high return of investments in a short span of time.
Satarah officials led by Lau and other incorporators were successively charged for syndicated estafa by hundreds of disgruntled investors after their millions of pesos of investments, together with the interests earned, were not able to be returned to them by the company officials after repeated failed promises of the timely return of their hard earned money.
Individuals ranging from professionals, sidewalk vendors, businessmen, law enforcers, lawyers, doctors and other people from all walks of life were enticed to invest their hard earned money with Satarah after company officials promised them a high return of their investments within a short period of time.
Senior Inspector April Rose Yangwa, warden of the Baguio City Jail female dorm, said that dozens of warrants of arrest against the Batolne sisters have been received by her office since the duo were committed to the city jail by the issuing courts.
Satarah was founded in April 2013 and was issued a permit by the city government for the retail of health and wellness products but the company eventually reportedly ventured in soliciting investments from the public with a high return of investments which was in violation of the Securities Code of the Philippines aggravated by the fact that it was not issued a secondary license from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Earlier, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) en banc issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against Satarah Wellness Marketing and Satarah Wellness International under pain of contempt from further soliciting, or otherwise offering or selling unregistered securities in the form of investment contracts to the public.
Satara-warning Lawyer Annie Gonzales-Tesoro, Director of the SEC Baguio Extension Office, cited the cease and desist order’s coverage are investment contracts, pooling of funds, investment trust, or similar forms, and in connection therewith, soliciting, accepting or receiving from others, money for the purpose of trading in any future contract.
The CDO was served by the members of the Anti-Investment Scam Task Force to the management of Satarah Wellness Marketing and Satarah Wellness International Tuesday and the same was posted in the premises of the company’s building in Quezon Hill.
“We are now closely monitoring the activities of the two companies that were involved in the mass solicitation of investments from the public and we also encourage the people to actively participate in the stoppage of operation of the different Ponzi investment companies by reporting to the members of the task force such illegal activities for the conduct of the appropriate operations to stop them from fooling the public and eventually carting away their hard earned money,” Tesoro stressed.
While it is true that there are also notices posted in the premises of Satarah that the companies are no longer accepting investments from the public, she cited there is still a need to conduct an in-depth investigation on their on-going activities to verify reports that the companies are reportedly continuously pursuing the solicitation of investments from innocent and willing individuals from different parts of the region.
In March 2015, the SEC issued an advisory to the public to refrain from dealing with the management of the two companies because they do not have the secondary license to solicit securities from the public in the form of investments with a promised high interest and return of investments in a short period of time.
Numerous investors recently complained to concerned government agencies that Satarah was unable to timely release their investments and the corresponding interests on the prescribed dates and that they are being compelled to sign agreements resetting the release of their money which is two to five months from the expiration of their original contracts among others.
Tesoro said the public must take into consideration eight reminders before investing in the operation of individuals and corporations to prevent them from being divested of their hard earned money.
“A Ponzi scheme is a type of investment fraud wherein an operator promises high financial returns that are not expected from traditional investments. Instead of investing the victims’ funds, the operator pays the original investors with the money given by subsequent investors. Usually, enough money is returned to the original few investors to make them believe that profits are actually realized. These original investors then are expected to “recruit” new investors, with their testimonials that they have indeed received their “profit,” Tesoro stressed.