March 24, 2023

After Mayor Benjamin Magalong, it is now Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan’s turn to be dragged in the scam using the names of city officials to order pricey food and drinks and obtain cell phone prepaid load.

The mayor who on several occasions had his name used by still unidentified scammers shared a report he received last June 11 from one store owner this time using the vice mayor’s name to order items for delivery.

“Magtatanong lang po sana ako kasi may tumawag po dito sa store namin at nago-order po.  Siya daw po si Vice Mayor Olowan.  Hindi naman po kasi sigurado at nagpapa-deliver siya. Hindi naman po namin naging customer si apo vice mayor,” the text message to the mayor read.

He said the business owner did the right thing in making verifications first before accepting the order.

“Please be doubly wary because scammers are getting craftier and craftier,” the mayor said as he directed the city police to get to the root of the swindling activity to stop it as soon as possible.  

Last week, one establishment owner in Barangay Lualhati filed an estafa case against a still unidentified suspect who pretended to be Magalong and managed to obtain a P2,100 worth of cellphone load.

The caller initially ordered food and liquor costing P24,880 but cancelled the same after being told that the brand of liquor requested was not available. Instead, the suspect tricked the store owner into sending the pre-paid load.

The scheme first came to light in 2019 when according to the mayor at least six restaurants fell victims to the modus. 

Last March, reports had it that the scam expanded to establishments outside the city after one restaurant in Sagada, Mountain Province reported a similar ploy.

“The scheme is absurd and not reflective of my character,” the mayor said.

Baguio City Police Office Information Officer, Lt/Col. Judy Palicos advised residents to be wary even with people appearing or sounding authoritative.

“Make an effort to check if these calls are legitimate. Let’s not give scammers the opportunity to pull their tricks,” she said. – Aileen P. Refuerzo