NBI exec, brother face raps over alleged pastillas scam

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020   •   922

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed graft and extortion complaints against its official and his brother from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) over the alleged ‘pastillas scheme.’

Atty. Joshua Paul Capiral, NBI’s legal assistance chief, and his brother, Christopher John, an officer at the BI’s medical section, underwent inquest proceedings at the Department of Justice on Wednesday morning.

The brothers are facing extortion complaints under the Revised Penal Code, and violation of the Anti-Graft Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and the Executive Order No. 608 which established the national security clearance system for government personnel with access to classified matters.

The two were arrested in an entrapment operation on Monday night for allegedly receiving bribes from individuals implicated in the pastillas scheme in exchange for exclusion from the charges.

Nineteen Immigration officers allegedly linked to the pastillas scheme are currently facing charges filed by the NBI at the Office of the Ombudsman last month.

The modus was called pastillas, derived from a Filipino sweet and sticky dessert, because the bribe money that some personnel receive were wrapped in paper.

The scheme allegedly takes advantage of Chinese casino high-rollers and offshore gaming workers who wish to be escorted to dodge the immigration screening process for a fee.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he has ordered a reinvestigation into the pastillas scheme.

“Considering that the NBI investigation appeared to have been tainted, I will order a reinvestigation of the so-called ‘pastillas’ racket involving some unscrupulous BI employees,” he said in message to reporters.

Meanwhile, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente welcomed the development and assured support for the drive to cleanse the agency of corruption.

Morente also vowed to continue its campaign against corruption activities within the agency.

“We will continue to pursue our campaign against BI personnel engaged in corrupt activities in coordination with NBI and other law enforcement agencies in support of President Duterte’s desire to cleanse the agency,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

NBI arrests 5 people allegedly involved in BDO hacking

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2022

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Friday said it has arrested five persons allegedly involved in a hacking incident that affected more than 700 BDO account holders.

In a statement, NBI Director Eric Distor said the five individuals, including two Nigerian nationals, were part of the “Mark Nagoyo Heist Group” tagged in a massive hacking of BDO accounts.

Distor identified the suspects as Ifesinachi Fountain Anaekwe alias Daddy Champ, Chukwuemeka Peter Nwadi, Jherom Anthony Taupa, Ronelyn Panaligan, and Clay Revillosa.

The Nigerian nationals underwent inquest proceedings before the Department of Justice, Manila for Trafficking in Unauthorized Access Devices under Section 9 of RA 8484 otherwise known as the Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998.

Taupa, meanwhile, is facing complaint for Misuse of Devices under Section 4(a)(5)(i)(aa) of RA 10175 otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The NBI said the Nigerian nationals were arrested in an entrapment operation conducted by its Cybercrime Division in Mabalacat, Pampanga on January 18, 2022.

The two were caught in the act of offering accounts for sale during the operation, the agency added.

“The operation stemmed from information provided by the informant who had transactions with the subjects,” the NBI said.

“The informant voluntarily appeared before the NBI-CCD to give information regarding several individuals believed to be leaders, members, or affiliates of Mark Nagoyo Group,” it added.

It can be recalled that BDO account holders in December reported unauthorized money transfer transactions involving tens of thousands of pesos. Initial reports showed that the group was able to access customers’ bank accounts while supposedly bypassing the One-Time-Pin requirement and drained funds in those accounts. Email confirmations for the bulk of the illegal transfers showed that they were made by a certain “Mark D. Nagoyo.”

The informant said the arrested subjects were engaged in the business of providing access devices to anyone looking for options to cash out funds fraudulently obtained, including bank accounts, crypto wallets, or even point-of-sale terminals of otherwise legitimate merchants.

The informant also revealed that he received a call from a certain “Mark Froilan” about money cashouts, who later contacted Nigerian national Anaekwe. The suspect then said he will provide the informant with three different accounts for the transfer of P10 million each, “apparently referring to the funds from BDO alluded to by Mark Froilan.”

Meanwhile, Taupa was arrested in a buy-bust operation also conducted on January 18 in Floridablanca, Pampanga “for selling ‘scampage’ or phishing website.”

The NBI said another informant identified Taupa as one of the masterminds behind the Mark Nagoyo scam. Taupa was said to be engaged in selling scampage, particularly an imitation of Gcash Webpage.

“Accordingly, Taupa modified the code in order to gather the log-in details of unwitting victims who would access the scampage in the mistaken belief that they were opening Gcash’s official portal,” the bureau said.

The owner of the phishing website would then be able to get into the victim’s Gcash accounts to steal their funds.

The NBI said it launched the operation after the information and Taupa agreed on P2,000 payment in cash for the scampage.

“Taupa admitted that he was selling Gcash scampages which he stored in his computer,” it said.

“Further investigation revealed that subject Jherom Taupa is involved in a group heist, being the one sending the emailing list containing personal details of various bank customers to a group of individuals responsible for sending email to the former. The said email contains a link which when clicked, will be used for the hacking process of the heist group,” it added.

The NBI said a separate operation by its operatives yielded the arrest of Panaligan and Revillosa, who were tagged as web developer and downloader in the BDO hacking incident.

DOJ wants Kerwin Espinosa transferred to ‘more secure’ detention facility

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) is eyeing to transfer self-confessed drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa to a more secure detention facility following his alleged attempt to escape the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) facility.

“We believe that Kerwin Espinosa should be transferred to a more secure detention facility in view of the numerous cases that he is currently facing,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a message to reporters on Tuesday.

On Monday, the NBI said it thwarted the plan of three detainees led by Espinosa to bolt from its facility through a hole of the exhaust fan at the ceiling.

Guevarra, however, said that Espinosa’s transfer to another facility would need commitment orders from the courts where his cases are being tried.

“Ordinarily, unbailed individuals awaiting completion of their trial are detained in facilities of the BJMP,” he said.

“The courts will determine the appropriate BJMP facility, but we’ll recommend the most secure one. the same arrangement will be recommended for the other detainees who attempted to escape,” he added.

NBI says drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, 2 others tried to escape from detention

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2022

 

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Monday said it has foiled the escape attempt of three detainees led by drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa from its facility.

In a statement, NBI Officer-in-Charge Director Eric Distor said agents were able to thwart the detainees’ attempt after it conducted an inspection in the detention facility.

Distor said the NBI’s Security Management Section (SMS) conducted the inspection after receiving information about the escape plan.

He said that on January 13, 2022, the chief of the NBI-SMS and his executive officer received a report that Espinosa and two other detainees were planning to escape through the hole of an exhaust fan on the ceiling.

“On the same night, they immediately conducted an inspection of the jail,” the NBI said.

“In one of the cells of the jail, the raiding team of agents observed a deformed exhaust fan, which when removed, exposed a hole fit for a detainee to escape,” it added.

Distor said that in view of this incident, security measures at the jail have since been tightened.

Regular inspection of all jail facilities is also being implemented, he added.

 

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