DoJ starts probe of car rental scam
THE Department of Justice on Monday commenced its preliminary investigation on the criminal charges filed against suspects implicated in a car rental scam that preyed on hundreds of car owners in Central and Southern Luzon.
However, Rafaela Anunciacion, the alleged architect of the scam, did not show up during the first hearing or even send a lawyer.
This prompted the DoJ’s panel of prosecutor headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rosanne Balauag to issue another subpoena on Anunciacion’s second address.
Anunciacion was arrested last March 2 by members of the Philippine National Police Regional Highway Patrol Unit 4-A’s special operations team upon warrant for estafa issued by Judge Francisco Pano of San Pedro, Laguna Regional Trial Court Branch 93. But she was granted bail because the estafa case against her is bailable.
Some of her alleged agents —Tychicus Nambia, Anastacia Cauyan, Sabina Torrea, Eliseo Cortez, Eleanor Constatino, Marilou Cruz, Jhennelyn Berroya, Ana Borlon and Lea Rosales—appeared before the prosecutors to receive copies of the complaints.
The respondents were given until the next hearings set on March 27 and 31 to answer the charges for swindling and syndicated estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code and Presidential Decree 1689 and submit their counter-affidavits.
The DoJ has already placed Anunciacion and other respondents under the Immigration lookout bulletin earlier.
The Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group and several sets of victims of the scam from Bulacan, Laguna, Angeles City, Batangas and Nueva Ecija filed the criminal complaints against Anunciacion and others.
The victims in the first batch of complaints also attended the DoJ hearing to affirm their respective affidavits.
Investigators said the suspects enticed car owners to buy cars via bank loans and rent them out for P35,000 to P45,000 a month.
Once the owners agreed, their vehicles would never be returned to them and apparently either mortgaged or sold to different persons without their knowledge.
The car rental scam has reportedly victimized some 500 people.