Group of Pinoy tourists in Beijing loses P1M to swindler
A recent tour to Beijing, China, by a group of Filipino tourists became memorable for a different reason — they lost more than P1 million to a swindler who sold them precious stones that turned out to be fake.
An exclusive report by GMA News' Emil Sumangil on 24 Oras on Monday said the Filipinos, all employees of an insurance firm in Metro Manila, only found out that the stones were fake upon their return to the Philippines.
The Filipinos, who visited tourist spots in Beijing on their four-day tour, said they were brought to the suspect's store by their tour guide. The store reportedly sold crystal and ancient stones.
"Sa bus pa lang mino-motivate na kami na puwede namin maging investment or pamana [yung stones]," said one female victim who refused to be identified.
She said the owner of the store, who claimed to be Chinese-Filipino, even gave them a warm welcome, complete with a complimentary tea and a couple of freebies.
"Basta daw Pilipino ang nagto-tour doon, may pitak sa puso niya, kasi daw bibihira ang mga Pilipino na nagtu-tour sa Beijing," the victim said.
"Pinainom niya kami ng tea, then parang as a token of appreciation na napunta kami sa store niya, nagbigay siya ng sample jade, na puwede namin i-chain sa amin, 'yung parang pinaka-pendant," she added.
The report said the group became interested in purchasing the jade gemstones because the owner offered it to them at a huge discount.
One set worth P1.3 million was reportedly sold for only P300,000, while one crystal necklace supposedly worth P400,000 was sold for P70,000. Gemstones worth P100,000 was also given to the group for free due to the value of their transaction.
The victim said they had no doubts on the quality of the products since it all had a certificate of precious stone identification. "Ang laki-laki ng kumpanya, naka-escalator pa nga. So hindi mo aakalain ganoon na manloloko."
A male victim said they only learned the precious stones were fake upon returning to the Philippines where they had them appraised at a legitimate jewelry store and checked on the internet.
"Masayang-masaya pa kami dahil yung experience namin [ay] parang nakamura na kami and masaya. Nung ma-search sa internet saka lang namin nalaman na marami na palang ganoong pangyayari, na hindi lang kami ang una," he said.
"Hard-earned money namin yun, kaya ang hirap [tanggapin]," he added, almost breaking down in tears.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has already been informed of the case and has vowed to assist the victims, the report said.
Meanwhile, DFA spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar reminded the public to exercise caution when traveling overseas.
"Kung hindi kayo maalam doon sa mga particulars na ito ba authentic o ito ba hindi, then 'pag isipang mabuti bago bumili," Bolivar said. —Joseph Tristan Roxas/KBK, GMA News