Tuesday, July 10, 2007

(UPDATED) Widow loses P150K to 'sweet-talking' syndicate

by Reddie Chua

QUEZON CITY, Philippines -- A 65-year-old widow on Thursday lost P150,000 in cash and P40,000 worth of jewelry to five unidentified members of the "Budol-Budol" gang, a group of swindlers known to sweet-talk and hypnotize their victims.

Officials from Brgy. Loyola Heights Public Security Office (PSO) found the woman at the KFC branch on Katipunan Avenue, where the suspects left her.

The victim, who refused to be named, was walking along the National Housing Authority headquarters on Elliptical Road when five strangers approached her. One of them asked her the directions
to a warehouse on Kalayaan Avenue, and promised to give her money in return.

The victim said she was brought to a grey Toyota FX where she was ordered to withdraw cash from her bank account and go home to get jewelry. She could not help but follow whatever they told her, she said.

“I remember what happened, but I don’t know why I was following their orders,” the victim said in Filipino in a phone interview. “I was so helpless.”

With two of the suspects, she went to her house in Batasan Hills to get her jewelry, and then proceeded to the BPI Express Center on Katipunan Avenue to withdraw all her savings.

The other suspects met her at the KFC branch nearby and gave her a bag which they said contained P100,000 in cash, then left with her money and jewelry. The bag contained nothing but pad papers.

“I was confused,” the victim said.

Authorities said the victim may have been hypnotized by the swindlers, as in any Budol-Budol operation.

“They sweet-talk a lot, that’s why victims are enticed,” said SPO1 Florante Bolante of the Quezon City Police District station 9, where the victim was taken by Brgy. Loyola Heights security officials.

Barangay PSO Executive Officer Paul Casipi said that members of the Budol-Budol gang hypnotize their victims by talking to them persuasively. Because of this, victims like the widow take quite a long time to recover from shock, he added.

This was the sixth Budol-Budol case in Brgy. Loyola Heights this year, said PSD Deputy Executive Director Manuel Falco. He urged people to be extra vigilant when walking alone, because Budol-Budol members “strike anytime, anywhere.”

SPO1 Florante Bolante of QCPD Station 9 demonstrates how Budol-Budol members make pad papers appear like money in bags.

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