By Roi Lomotan
An officer of the Women and Children’s Protection Desk (WCPD) here reminded female residents to be careful when responding to friend requests or messages on social media, noting that most scammers are now using social media to connect to their potential victims.
PSMSgt. Janeth Arnaiz, WCPD investigator of the City Police Station, recalled previous cases reported in her office last year where the victims were fooled by someone they met online.
Arnaiz said there was an incident where the perpetrator was disguised as a local photographer who targets young females who frequently post photos of themselves online.
“Ang iyahang trend, kaning mga dalagita na kusog kaayo magpa-picture, mag-photo shoot-photo shoot. Mao nang iyang ipang-add sa Facebook. Siguro mga 20 kabuok ang ni-report didto namo na na-victim sila. Moingon siya na ako photographer ko dire sa Dumaguete, ganahan ka mag-photoshoot ta dire. Pagda ug lang costume kay mag-ilis-ilis ta. Iyang videohan na mag-ilis (The suspect usually targets young females who take photos of themselves or conduct photo shoots. The suspect will add them on Facebook and ask them if they want to join in a photo shoot. Once they agree, the suspect will instruct them to bring costumes. The victims said they caught the suspect taking photos of them while changing. I think there were around 20 victims who to came to us and reported the same person),” Arnaiz said.
Arnaiz added the suspect would sometimes touch the victims’ sensitive body parts.
The WCPD officer cited they were able to trace the suspect.
However, none of the victims wanted to pursue a case against the suspect.
Arnaiz also disclosed that it is not only young women that scammers victimize online.
She said recently, two widows came to their office and reported they were victims of online scammers who posed as men looking for love online but later found out to be using this scheme to take advantage of older women.
“Ang isa wala nuon makawati pero dako na gyud siya gasto. Gipa-utro na niya ang balay pagkahuman gipalayas na siya kay wala na siyay kwarta. Naa pod niabot, maluoy ta niya kay gilungkab ang iyang balay. Seven months niya na-uyab online, taga-Luzon, naabot dire iya gipletihan. One week sila gaipon. Pagka-one week after gidrivan ang iyang sakyanan, gi-adto ang iyang balay, gilungkab iyang balay (The first was, although she was not robbed by her partner, she shelled out a large sum of money for him. It came to a point that she even shouldered the renovation of the house but after it was completed, the man evicted her from the house since she no longer has money. The second one reported that she was robbed by her partner. They were messaging online for seven months. The guy is from Luzon. The victim even shouldered the travel expense so that her partner can come here and visit her. They lived together for a week but after that her partner took her belongings and left),” Arnaiz explained.
Both women found their partners via chat in a popular social media site.
With this, Arnaiz said the challenge now is raising awareness on the risks of social media.
“Ato pod i-mention sa atong mga anak, pag-umangkon na dili ta mosalig ug kinsa ang naa sa messenger, naa sa Facebook. Kana bitaw nag-disguise lang kay pinakasayon pangitaon ang biktim ron. Naa gyud sa Facebook (Let’s mention this to our kids and to our nieces. Tell them not to trust people on Facebook or messenger who disguise their identity. Victims are easy to find these days because of Facebook),” Arnaiz emphasized.
“Dili ta mosalig ug kinsa ang naa sa Facebook, kinsa ang naa sa messenger kay lain-lain na na sila ug ngalan. Pwede ra one hour after, pwede na otrohon ang ngalan, mogamit ug lain nga picture. Naa jud ang challenge sa social media (We should be careful who we trust on Facebook or messenger because they can take many identities. In an hour, they can change their names and pictures. The challenge really now is on social media),” she added.
Arnaiz also urged women to be firm in pursuing a case as she cited that in most cases, victims would rather choose not to pursue with the filing of the case to avoid embarrassment.