31 May 2011

It has been brought to the attention of DOJ Secretary Leila M. De Lima that a certain individual or group of individuals has been using, without authorization, her name and identity in scamming unwitting members of the public. It also appears that the name and identity of other high-ranking government officials, including that of Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr. and DILG Secretary Jesse M. Robredo are also being used in similar scams that, in all likelihood, is the handiwork of a single syndicate.

The common modus operand! appears to be that someone would contact the targeted victims, either via phone or text message, informing them that they have been identified by a high-ranking government official as having qualified to be the recipients of service vehicles donated by non-governmental organizations.

Some of those who almost fell victim to this scam include barangay officials from Iriga City, the hometown of Secretary De Lima. One of the barangay officials allegedly received calls from a lady claiming to be Secretary De Lima, and informing him of the "donation" of an ambulance and a motorcycle in exchange for �30,000 to cover their registration fees. Fortunately, it occurred to the barangay officials concerned to first confirm the information with the office of Secretary De Lima before any harm or damage was actually done.

At first, Secretary De Lima assumed that the incident was a result of some miscommunication or misunderstanding. However, later developments reveal that the same scam has been perpetrated against other persons, including close family friends of the Secretary who almost fell victims to, as they have been attempted to be drawn into, the scheme.

The malefactors do not appear to be simply financially-motivated. Their con seems to have been designed to bring confusion and embarrassment to both the victims and to the high-ranking government officials, whose name they have dragged into their nefarious activities.

Hence, members of the public are advised to beware of the modus operandi of these criminal elements. Please be very cautious when dealing with people who claim to be connected with the Office of the Secretary of Justice. It is not within the mandate of the Secretary of Justice to distribute service vehicles and the like to local government units or private individuals.

If anyone attempts to contact you supposedly on behalf of any government official, especially via mere phone call, text message or email, proposing a suspicious transaction, especially involving the exchange of a sum of money, do not hesitate to report the incident to authorities for proper investigation.

Meanwhile, Secretary De Lima has directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into and investigate this illegal activity and find out who are behind such deceptions, so they can be dealt with accordingly, i.e., arrested and prosecuted.

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