Masterminds of at least two ongoing online scams involving the sale of jewelry and other items are using the name of barangay Magnesia del Sur in the capital town of Virac in their illegal scheme of defrauding clients of their hard-earned money.
Upon being informed of the matter by the Tribune, a visibly disturbed Punong Barangay Alicia Cansilao categorically denied the existence of Forever Gold Jewelry PH and Gold Genuine PH in their coastal village.
She said there is nobody in their barangay named Connie Bolusan Lazara, the listed owner of Gold Genuine, or Maria Ethel Monarba Quiazon, the alleged proprietor of Forever Gold.
Both entities utilized in their separate Facebook pages identical Certificates of Business Name Registration allegedly issued by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The two certificates have the same address, “#54 San Lorenzo Street, Barangay Magnesia Del Sur, Virac, Catanduanes,”, the same validity period, “06 October 2018 to 06 October 2023,” and same certificate number, “05534621.”
A check with the DTI Catanduanes provincial office showed that several weeks ago, somebody from the Visayas region inquired as to the legality of the Forever Gold company after being scammed in the jewelry transaction.
They told the complainant that verification with the records showed Forever Gold is not registered as a legitimate business, Quiazon’s name did not correspond to any business registered with the agency while the certificate number is likewise non-existent. The findings were the same as far as Gold Genuine was concerned, the DTI averred.
It also clarified that the registration of business names with PH are not allowed under the existing guidelines.
An inquiry with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) reportedly found that the Tax Identification Number (TIN) presented by both online sellers were fake.
The Tribune learned of the scams when one of their victims from Davao City sent a message to this paper’s Facebook page asking for assistance regarding Lazara who they naturally assumed was from Virac.
“From 11 person kahapon at this very moment sir umabot na agad kami nang 30 katao na naloko.. ito pa lang yung nag message po, panu nalang yung nag order tsaka walang kamalay.malay,” Jenelyn Corminal said in her message.
“This is really heart-aching sa ganitong sitwasyun talaga sila mang scam.. Every now and then nag chachat sakin nagtatanong lahat na scam..,” she said, adding that while she lost P5,000, the others were defrauded of bigger amounts of up to P32,000.
She fancied a Saudi gold ring among the hundreds of photos posted on the website and was told to furnish her complete name, address and contact number.
The ring cost P5,290 while shipping fee was P100, Lazara said, covering the item, free MAC lipstick, face mask and alcohol.
Corminal disclosed that Lazara instructed her to send her payment of P5,390 to the latter’s employee, John Michael Pacaldo with cellphone number 09176646223 through GCash on April 19, 2020.
Gold Genuine said that the transaction is “pay today ship today,” with the paid item to be shipped on the following day.
It promised to send a private message later for the tracking number and actual photos of her orders before it would be shipped.
The item never arrived, the promised tracking number was never sent, and the only message she received was a computer-generated one that said there will be no meet-ups and store pick-up at the warehouse due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
Victims are often blocked after demanding shipment of their “bought” items while comments on both accounts are not visible.
A check of both Facebook accounts showed that Gold Genuine’s page was created on July 17, 2019 while that of Forever Gold was made on Nov. 22, 2019.
Aside from jewelry, both sites sell alcohol, infrared thermometers, chocolates, face masks and other essential health items, promising freebies and “limited vouchers” to buyers.
Gold Genuine also posted photos of “Baby Aaron,” a one-month old baby allegedly confined at Catanduanes Doctors Hospital Inc. who needed to be operated on, with the online seller sending half of its earnings to help the child.
The CDHI management later said there was no such patient confined at the hospital and that the post is a scam.
It also claimed to be helping many poor people in the town through its Tulong Pulubi Virac and asked its followers for support. Two other posts claimed it distributed a total of food packs for 15,000 families in Virac.
Forever Gold’s account also has similar posts, with one angry victim alleging that Genuine Gold, Forever Gold, Gold Supplier PH and Maygold have the same scam strategy and using various names such as Andrea Santos, Claire Joy Santos and Claire Joy Romero Macaspac.
Incidentally, Macaspac was the same person who also posed as the owner of Genuine Gold District PH with a warehouse in barangay Balite and sold jewelry items online in the latter half of 2019.
The DTI registration she posted as proof also turned up to be a fake while the BIR registration she presented was that of 888 Gold General Merchandise which has Dr. Ferdinand Que as proprietor, not Macaspac.
As of presstime, the Gold Genuine and Forever Gold accounts are still active on Facebook and possibly luring many victims to their financial ruin. It is believed that the same person or persons are behind the online jewelry scams.