BAGUIO CITY (August 1, 2023)

More than 60 investors, including “account managers” of the casino junket scam group “Team Z”, tagged to have carted away at least P4B worth of “investments” in Baguio City alone, flooded the National Bureau of Investigation-Cordillera alleging they were defrauded of their hard-earned money.

One of the complainants told NBI investigators that TEAM Z ring leaders Hector Aldwin Liao Pantollana, his brother Hubert Amiel, brothers Hazen and Hein Carreon Humilde, Mikaela Damasco Ty-Choi, Virginio Casupanan, and other “core leaders” duped them into believing that they would continue receiving their 5 percent monthly return of investment and 2 percent more for those who convinced others to invest into the casino junket financing scheme purportedly meant for the Okada casino in Parañaque.

Complainants also claimed they were initially receiving their payouts during the first few months of their investments. However it did not last long as the hundreds of millions of investments collected from the Baguio City investors, were not actually invested into casino financing but were lumped and pocketed by the group, especially Team Z founder Hazen Humilde. According to the complainants, whose number could further rise up in the coming days, they are issued investment contracts but are disguised as contracts of loan.

They pointed out that the real intent was to invest but they had to execute and sign a contract of loan in order to receive their payouts. Investments are locked in for a period of 12 months Complainants also claimed, Team Z collects investments through the Humilde brother and Mikaela Ty-Choi who, bring the money to Hubert Amiel Pantollana with the use of Hazen Humilde’s bulletproof vehicle to Pampanga. Upon receiving the money, Hubert turns over the sum to his brother Hector at the City of Dreams Casino at Paranaque.

Several complainants who vow to become government witnesses likewise bared that they are in deep indebtedness because Team Z ring leaders — the brothers Humilde and Mikaela Ty-Choi— enticed them into a 30/70 car loan and housing loan, promising they would shell out the monthly 70 percent amortization payments after the investor shells out the 30 percent downpayment. “Kalaunan, hindi na nagbayad ng monthly amortization (ang Team Z), kaya niremata yung sasakyan o bahay”, one of the complaining investors said.

Investment amounts were varied, the highest being P31M for a single investor. Another investor said his family’s total investment amounted to P7M which was pooled from his own personal savings, his mother’s retirement pay from government, and family members’ money whom he convinced to lump in for the Team Z investment scheme. Lately, when one of the would-be government witness tried to pull out his investment, the Humilde brothers and Ty-Choi “ordered” her to look for other investors to replace his slot and the money that the new investor will infuse shall be the “pull-out” investment she will receive, proving it as “a classic Ponzi scheme”, an NBI investigator pointed out.

Earlier in March, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a Cease-and-Desist-Order (CDO) against Pantollana, the Humildes, Ty-Choi, Team Z, the Philippine National Esports League (PNEL) and at least four dozen personalities more involved in the casino junket financing operation to halt its illegal investment scheme. The SEC also foisted to lodge formal criminal suits against these groups and personalities for violating government securities regulations and laws. The said CDO however did not stop the casino junket group from operating. Yet another investor claimed before the NBI, when one tries to pull out his or her investment upon maturity, he or she will be berated and forced to renew contract or to find new investors to replace the pulled out slot.

Artemio A. Dumlao

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