City councilors: Let’s regulate networking firms in Lipa

 

LIPA CITY — Councilors want city hall to regulate the operation of multi-level networking firms operating here.

This is given the 20,000 people, mostly Lipa City residents, who were victimized by the multi-level networking firm One Dream Global Marketing, Inc. in an alleged P3 billion investment scam last July.

Councilor Bibong Mendoza urged the council to investigate “in aid of legislation” the said investment scam, particularly the operations of One Dream.

Like similar schemes, what One Dream does is lure people to invest their money with them and enjoy huge returns

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) advised the public to be wary about transacting investment-related matters with One Dream Global Marketing, Inc. With an office in Lipa City, this networking scheme promised multiple returns, but its lead officials are nowhere to be found. (screengrab from SEC website)

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) advised the public to be wary about transacting investment-related matters with One Dream Global Marketing, Inc. With an office in Lipa City, this networking scheme promised multiple returns, but its lead officials are nowhere to be found. (screengrab from SEC website)

within a short period of time.

“There’s a need for the council to pass an ordinance to regulate networking businesses,” Mendoza said in a privilege speech.

Councilor Donato Linatoc goes a step further: he suggested that the city government also require networking companies to first secure a special use permit from the city council before they are given business permits to operate in Lipa.

“We have been hearing reports that aside from One Dream, there are many other networking businesses existing to operate and is not yet considered as scam but could potentially be another scam,” Linatoc said in a separate speech.

Thus the need to regulate, he says.

Records from the city’s business permits and licensing office show One Dream’s nature of business is wholesale and retail of detergents and not the sale of investment products. This, to councilors Linatoc and Mendoza, casts doubt on the legitimacy of One Dream’s operations.

One Dream’s office is located at Bhailon Building in Barangay Marawoy here. But the Securities and Exchange Commission said One Dream also operates in Calamba, Laguna and with offices in other provinces in the Calabarzon, Bicol and Cagayan Valley regions, and in Metro Manila.

SEC earlier warned the public against Freedom Life Advanced Global Prosperity Program (FLAG Prosperity), One Lightning, Gold Extreme and Success200 for their unauthorized investment taking activities in the absence of required licenses.

The commission is also probing the links between One Dream and FLAG Prosperity, where One Dream owner Arnel Gacer and wife Jobelle de Guzman were also listed as the company’s incorporators.

Earlier on July 21, 18 victims have filed syndicated estafa charges before the Department of Justice (DoJ) against One Dream president Gacer, de Guzman and other company officials identified as Ariel Gacer, Richard Ramos, Jay-Ar de Guzman, Marlon de Guzman, Judith Itoh, Jun de Guzman, Lui de Guzman, Linda de Guzman, and Joel de Guzman.

The complainants claimed they lost P3,338,910.80 from One Dream.

In their sworn affidavit, the victims claimed the case respondents committed syndicated estafa under articles 315 and 316 of the Revised Penal Code for operating and recruiting prospective investors using a scheme called system profit.

Under this scheme, a pay-in of P888 (equivalent to one slot) gives the investor an access or exit to the pay-out window of P1,300 after four days. The investors also have the option to invest in P1,776 pay-in, which will later grew to P2,517.60 and so on.

The investor also earns an additional P44 per slot for every person they would recruit or direct referral under the scheme.

“Buoyed by our natural desire to similarly profit from such scheme and because of the company’s continuous assurance and pretensions that we will indeed profit, we placed various sums of money with the company and obtained referrals,” the complainants said.

Their confidence in the financial scheme then grew when the respondents showed them “rags to riches stories” about people who became instant millionaires after joining One Dream.

But the company suddenly closed its Lipa office on July 11 after reportedly receiving complaints from investors. The following day, the complainants learned that One Dream would no longer be granting pay-outs.

“The impossibility of the conditions as promised by the respondents (gives) clear false pretenses which led to the defraudation of the general public,” the complainants said.

As Gacer is nowhere to be found, they said that this clearly indicates an “intention to defraud the public by the One Dream head Arnel Gacer and his co-respondents.

Gacer’s relatives in Goa, Camarines Sur denied the allegations that One Dream is an investment scam. They also blamed the sudden closure of the business to Lipa City Mayor Meynardo Sabili whom they accused of harassment.

Sabili, however, dismissed the allegations, saying they were just an attempt of the Gacer camp to cover-up their wrongdoing and divert the attention of the general public.

The mayor has also offered a P500,000 bounty to those who could provide information to local police on the whereabouts of Arnel Gacer.

 

 

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About MARLON ALEXANDER