NBI nabs extortionist posing as top gov’t officials

MANILA — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Monday announced the arrest of a person posing as top government officials to extort money from various individuals and institutions.

NBI spokesman Ferdinand Lavin identified the suspect as Vimbi Flores Avilla, alias Jayvee, who was able to extort PHP950,000 from a businessman by posing as Department of Transportation (DOTR) Secretary Arthur Tugade.

Lavin said that the operatives of the NBI-Anti-Graft Division (NBI-AGD) arrested Avilla last March 1 at a restaurant in San Pedro City, Laguna following weeks of verifications, sureveillance and casing operations.

Authorities were able to seize from the suspect his mobile phone and discovered, based on the conversations and messages found in it, that the latest official he posed as was Tugade and, because of this, was able to extort PHP950,000 from a businessman.

NBI records also showed that Avilla has been arrested in 2012 by the NBI’s Interpol Division for operatives for posing as former Vice President Jejomar Binay to be able to extort money from a business tycoon.

Avilla also has an outstanding warrant of arrest issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 34 on January 15, 2016 for attempted murder.

The arrest of Avilla was part of follow-up operations following the arrest made by the NBI-AGD on a group led by Jerico Jay Sauco who were caught during an entrapment operation in San Pedro last June 2, 2016.

An unidentified caller from Sauco’s group had called a bank pretending to be Peter Lavina, a campaign spokesman of then President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, and asked for PHP1 million in assistance to fund the victory party.

Meanwhile, the NBI has called on the public to be vigilant and so this modus operandi to prevent it.

”In view of the alarming circumstances and by reason of the possible magnitude of the crimes committed against innocent victims by this syndicate, the NBI-AGD recommends in-depth investigation in order to determine persons involved in this organized crime as well as to determine if there are other persons defrauded. It is further recommended that the general public be informed with this modus operandi to prevent it from happening again,” NBI said in a statement. PNA-northboundasia.com