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Scam victims could no longer get money back

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur— Thousands of residents of this province who were defrauded by billions of pesos can no longer expect the return of their money from the owner of the investment scam who is now in hiding.

A leader of FRX Rice Trading based in Prosperidad town has revealed the operator, Dimber Celis, has already squandered the money intended for “payout” to thousands of investors that she no longer  has the financial capacity to return the investments.

Mark Clinton Chavez, the FRX leader who is also one of the five board of directors of FRX Rice Trading registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission, has disclosed in an exclusive interview that Celis has been on a lavish spending spree buying cars and properties before the fallout of the investment scam on June 24.

“She bought many properties in other places. But what I only knew were the two new Toyota Fortuner SUVs, a beach resort in Buenavista town and the house in tBahbah poblacion in Prosperidad town ,” Chavez said.

The money scam which has lured thousands of victims in this province and other neighboring areas because of its 70 to 80 percent weekly return of investment abruptly stopped its operation after the crackdown by the police’s Criminal Investigations and  Detection Group (CIDG).

Last June 24, CIDG operatives confiscated P23 million from Celis’ safe house in Nasipit town in Agusan del Sur after a car chase from Talacogon town of this province where the payouts were expected to be held.

The money, log books and documents were recovered from the alleged safehouse of FRX Rice Trading at around 7:30 p.m.

Prior to the raid on the safehouse, a pickup owned by the trading firm collided with a motorcycle driven by a barangay official along the highway in Buenavista town.

“It turned out the pickup was heading toward the safehouse to pick up the money… We suspected the owner or owners of the money are planning to escape,” Lt. Col. Cholijun Caduyac, police (CIDG-Caraga chief, said. 

Celis managed to escape in another vehicle. She is facing charges for syndicated estafa and violation of Republic Act 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code. 

Hundreds of leaders of the investment scheme were waiting for Celis to distribute the payouts patiently waiting for hours outside the town hall but to no avail as they learned the Forex owner hurriedly left with the convoy of cars sensing the CIDG lawmen were already there to conduct the raid.

The CIDG said the raid was in line with President Duterte’s order to close companies tagged in investment scams.

Chavez has already sensed danger two days earlier during the gathering at the Almont Resort Hotel in Butuan City when she left unnoticed upon learning that only five leaders have brought in pay-ins which is not enough to supplement the boxful of cash she brought for the payouts.

“I believed she was making a scenario to escape from her obligations to the leaders since she don’t have enough cash and was expecting millions of pesos from pay ins to defray the money shortage and continue operations,” Chavez confided.

Celis has assured close to 500 investment leaders that the payout will resume on June 24 after two weeks break at the extravagant birthday and baptismal party she and her child celebrated at LMX Convention Center in Butuan City on June 19.

Chavez who attended the party as a godfather of Celis’ daughter revealed she spent at least P2 million for the event aside from the cash rewards of P5000 for each game winner and the giveaways of expensive perfumes.

At the peak of FRX operations in the middle of May up to June 10, pay-ins received by each leader from investors could reach as much as P50 million a day.

Chavez admitted the accumulated cash he received from pay ins had reached more than a billion pesos since he joined in May 15.

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