Common Modus Operandi used in the Philippines and Elsewhere
The Modus Operandi (MO) described here are from actual records of illegal practices encountered by the investigators of the Western Police District (WPD) and the defunct Balikbayan & Tourist Protection Unit, ASG (BTPU- ASG). It is intended to enlighten the citizenry more particularly the Balikbayan, OFW and Foreign Tourist visiting the country on the modes of operations employed by syndicated groups or even individuals pulling off their nefarious activities. The Bantay Turista Foundation International (BTFI) hopes that this information will ensure that you will not become a victim.
The common victims of this MO are foreigners, Balikbayan, OFWs and their dependents who are lured into exchanging their foreign currencies into pesos at a rate higher than the prevailing exchange rates. The group/individual approaches and offers a tempting high rate to the would be victim. During the transaction, which usually takes place outside or right in front of a foreign exchange shops where the equivalent peso is counted before the victim three times. Initially, the victim was allowed to count the money he will receive to make him feel confident that he will get the exact amount for his foreign currency. Thereafter, a recount will be done by one of the perpetrators spreading the pesos in his palm to cover his fingers that are folding a portion of the bunch. The culprit makes some ploy to distract the attention of the victim, often by telling him to be extra careful of robbers, while wrapping the bundle of money in a newspaper or placing it inside a paper bag. Unknown to the victim part of his money is left in the hand of the perpetrator, Most of the time, a victim only discovers the shortchange when he counts the money while inside a car or upon arrival at his house or hotel.
The ploy commonly used is that a Filipino mine hunter or a Japanese survivor has knowledge of a secret Japanese Fortune which was plundered by the retreating Japanese Army during WWII and yet to be completely recovered. A sample of the Gold Bar is shown to the would be victim for physical examination and since the same is actually looks genuine, an offer will be made to sell the whole fortune by asking the victim to pay half the cost of the Gold Bars under terms and conditions agreed upon. One of the conditions is that the Gold Bars can be delivered or a map can be provided and brought to the site where the Bars can be dug up. After the payment, the perpetrators will never show up and the victim will soon discover that the Gold Bars which were delivered or unearthed from the site are gold plated lead bars.
This modus operandi commonly victimizes foreigners who roam alone in public places like bars, boardwalk, restaurant, tourist spots etc. The perpetrators usually composed of three (3) to four (4) females/males or a combination who befriend the would-be victim. After gaining trust and confidence, the victim will be taken for a ride to other tourist sites and during meal time, the victim will be brought to their house usually situated in a squatter colony where the victim will be treated for lunch, merienda or dinner. A beer or soft drinks spiked with Ativan tablet/powder, a powerful anti-depressant/sleeping pills will be given to the victim during the meal. Even before finishing the drink, the victim will succumb to a deep sleep and while sleeping, the victim will be stripped of his cash and valuables and will be brought out of the house and left on any road pavement or will be returned back to his hotel/motel room with the help of a hotel/motel staff.
Another variant is that a would be victim looking for a cheap sex with a movie actress or a student. The victim usually picked-up in a bar, restaurant, park and or a tourist site by a gorgeous female, well dressed and well-mannered. The victim will be approached and befriended until a casual conversation and seduction process takes place which culminates in negotiated sexual activities. The victim will either be brought to a pre-arrange hotel/motel or to his own hotel room. Once at the designated room, the victim will be offered liquor or drink which the perpetrator mixes with a highly potent Ativan pills/tablet. After making sure that the victim consumes the drink, the suspect will begin to undress to make a few petting motions until the victim falls asleep. At this juncture, the suspect will divest the victim of his cash/valuables, and then leave the victim at the scene. Most of the victims of this MO wake-up after two to three days and it takes another two days before the victim can fully recover from the drugs and discover the losses.
The suspects in this MO usually are well-dressed; mild-mannered and project an aura of legitimate businessman or an affluent matron; complete with jewelry, attache case and other props to appear and look wealthy. The perpetrators usually choose their victims in hotel lounges or coffee bars, cafes and restaurants frequented by tourists and businessman/women and affluent personages. After identifying their victim, the perpetrator moves closer to the would be victim and waits patiently until the victim is engrossed in a serious conversation with a companion or leaves his or her bags and other belongings an unattended. In a swift motion, the perpetrator takes the unattended bag or belongings and casually leaves the place. Another variant, involves two or three accomplices who distract the would be victim by engaging them in a conversation, often pretending to know the victim somewhere or ask for a lighter. When distracted, the accomplice takes the unattended bag or belonging of the victim.
Another variant, a perpetrator loiters around the hotel's front desk and waits for a guest to deposit his room key or is busy conversing with the front desk staff during registration. Once the victim is already busy talking with the front desk staff, the perpetrator will now makes his move by walking beside the victims and grab the bags or belonging unattended in a swift motion and casually leaves the place.
Ipit Taxi (Another form of Theft)
This MO usually involves three (3) perpetrators. The trio uses a taxi cab spray painted with a different name and sporting stolen or fake license plates. The driver usually drives around looking for a potential victim who is looking for a taxi cab, unknown to the victim, the locking mechanisms of both rear doors are not working. The driver then drives the cab to a pre-arranged area, usually a dimly lighted street or highway then slows down pretending he has engine/mechanical trouble. At this juncture his cohorts approach both doors of the cab, jump in and sandwich the victim who is forcibly divested of his cash and valuables. After the victim is robbed, the driver takes the victim and dumps him in a quiet place or highway.
In another variant, the taxi driver with the help of an illegal solicitor will ask the victim to pay additional amount or forcibly divest him of all cash and valuables, then the victim will be dumped at the side of a highway or quiet place.