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Scam alert: PASABUY PHL owner Elaine Velarde faces criminal prosecution for estafa and investment fraud

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) formally filed criminal charges against Elaine Velarde, owner of the online luxury goods store PASABUY PHL, with the Bulacan prosecutor’s office on Thursday.

The NBI’s Organized and Transnational Crimes Division (NBI-OTCD), led by lawyer Jerome Bomediano, recommended Velarde’s prosecution for investment fraud, estafa, money laundering, and violations of the Securities Regulation Code.

Agent Romeo Tejuco said that Velarde failed to provide any counter-evidence or respond to multiple summons sent to her address in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, regarding the allegations made by the complainants.

Over 20 complainants, mostly millennials from various cities in Metro Manila and provinces in Luzon, filed individual complaints with the NBI. In their sworn statements, they said that they were duped by Velarde out of approximately P100 million on various dates and occasions.

“Complainants were offered by Elaine to invest a certain amount in Pasabuy PHL, which would earn a monthly interest of 5 percent, and the contract for the investment was for a minimum of three months.”

“After waiting for the maturity of their respective contracts with Elaine, complainants did not receive any updates from her. To date, none of the complainants have received the return of their investments or any updates from the accused,” Tejuco said.

The NBI report also said that the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a certification stating that Velarde or PASABUY PHL are not authorized or licensed to solicit investments.

Verification from Smart Communications also confirmed that the number provided by the complainants was registered to Velarde.

The complainants said that they sent their investments to Velarde through her accounts in three known banks.

All the complainants informed the NBI that they were enticed by Velarde to invest after purchasing items from her online selling site, which at the time had more than a hundred thousand followers.

A victim said she trusted Velarde because she was endorsed by celebrities, influencers, and even politicians.

“Even the wife of a prominent politiko who is also an online seller endorsed her, so we thought she was trustworthy,” a victim told the lawyer.

“She just disappeared and stopped communicating with us,” an investor said. “Her social media accounts have become inactive, and we also noticed that posts about investments are no longer available.”

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