Filipino couple amasses at least P900M in alleged Bitcoin scam

NABBED. Police arrest Arnel and Leonady Ordonio, suspects in a multimillion peso Bitcoin scam. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

NABBED. Police arrest Arnel and Leonady Ordonio, suspects in a multimillion peso Bitcoin scam.

Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Police have nabbed a couple promising easy wealth through popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa announced on Tuesday, April 10.

Arnel and Leonady Ordonio were nabbed by PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) operatives – the police division in charge of high-stakes and high-profile crimes – in Vigan City last April 4 through an entrapment operation.

According to Dela Rosa, the couple has scammed more than 50 unknowing investors, amassing wealth worth P900 million* in "raw capital." This means the amount of money promised to be returned is not yet included in the computation.

How did the scheme work? PNP CIDG chief Director Roel Obusan said the couple fronted their scheme with a company called "NewG."

The scam, Obusan said, is structured like a pyramid scheme but with electronic money.

The Ordonios apparently had middlemen who lured people to invest. They promised to pay victims with their earnings every 15 days.

Fueled by the worldwide Bitcoin hype, more and more people were baited by the Ordonio couple's promises.

The complaints started piling in when investors lost contact with the Ordonios.

What happens next? Dela Rosa warned the public to be vigilant against investment opportunities that appear to be "too good to be true."

He admitted that he himself fell victim to pyramid scams back when he wasn't a police general yet.

Around 50 angry victims stormed to Camp Crame on Tuesday, asking the couple if they could still get back the money they had hoped would grow.

The Ordonio couple refused to answer. Even their lawyer refused to stand on the pedestal during the press conference.

The PNP CIDG filed syndicated estafa charges against the couple before the Department of Justice. Obusan said they are mulling over raising the charges to economic sabotage. – Rappler.com

*US$1 = P51.98

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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