Undated file photo shows Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government warned local government units Sunday that it had been receiving reports of con artists pretending to be affiliated with the DILG in order to scam employees.
In a statement issued Sunday, interior spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that the modus operandi consisted of impostors posturing as senior officials of the department and reaching out to LGU personnel via call or text and attempting to solicitor favors or extort money from local government personnel.
Local chief executives reported that the scammers would first offer to send government assistance or aid to the LGUs but, Malaya said, “there is always a catch at the end.”
“Let the public be warned that senior officials of the DILG do not call LGUs asking for favors. It is prudent to always check and consult our provincial DILG office to confirm before believing or sending money to these con artists,” said Malaya.
“In one instance, the mayor was told that the DILG will donate 2,800 cavans of rice to his constituents but in return, the mayor has to send P20,000 via money remittance allegedly for transportation costs,” he added.
According to Malaya, mayors in Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Iloilo, Leyte, and even Cotabato — the official name of the province commonly called North Cotabato — have reported supposed DILG officials calling and offering government assistance, promising to help clear up any on-going investigation against them, but always asking for funds at the end.
“In another instance, the mayor was told that he will be helped in his pending cases provided that funds will be transferred to an account of their choosing,” he said.
“This is a clear case of estafa punishable under the Revised Penal Code, thus we have requested the Philippine National Police to track down those persons responsible,“ he added.
Malaya added that the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has already been notified about the scam and encouraged the public to report any similar instances or come forward with any information on the perpetrators.
The interior spokesperson also reminded the public that the DILG communicates with LGUs and other agencies through official channels only.
“Hence, the public is advised to be cautious in dealing with any person claiming to be connected to the Department without verification. LGUs who are contacted by these unscrupulous individuals may verify the call or text with the DILG City/Municipal Local Government Operations Officer or our Provincial/Regional Office,” he said.
“We encourage everyone to report to the PNP station nearest you if you become aware of any similar acts. Rest assured that your identity will be kept confidential,” he added.
The department had already issued a similar advisory about this scam as early as July. — Franco Luna