In our group chat, a couple of my friends (both Mechanical Engineers) reported that they got the same FB messages from a certain Alfredo Po and Rodrigo F. Balaqui, Jr. regarding the clearance of their PRC licenses.
From there, I was already dubious. I was like, what clearance of license? And why use FB messenger for a supposedly official transaction? Upon checking, I learned that Alfredo Po was the name of a dismissed PRC Commissioner who apparently took his title ‘commissioner’ to heart and got fired for extortion. And there was indeed a Rodrigo F. Balaqui, Jr. currently at PRC; however, he is the Tuguegarao Regional Office Director, not from the Legal Services department. So I asked one of them to forward the ‘official’ email so I could see all the details aside from their screenshots. Here’s the email:
The email was from [email protected], which was not the email posted in PRC’s website under the transparency seal. Likewise, the cc’d email of Rodrigo F. Balaqui, which was [email protected]. The email’s contents were frankly alarming as they asked for sensitive information and photo–enough data for a thorough identity theft. Furthermore, the ‘clearance fees’ were to be deposited to a BDO account. PRC, being a government agency, should/would probably have or use a government bank (like Landbank or DPB) for official transactions, not a commercial one like BDO. The said fees amounting to Php 3,160.00, while not insignificant in and of itself, is nothing compared to the wealth of trouble my friend would have been in because of the amount of personal data they wanted to collect.
It was more than enough to convince us that the whole shebang is an elaborate scam. Still, I looked around the PRC website, then the news, just to see if anything would corroborate. And lo and behold:
Screenshot of http://www.prc.gov.ph/news/?id=4081
Long story short, it was a scam. Someone, or several someones, may be using the names of those men (Alfredo Po, Rodrigo F. Balaqui, Jr. and Atty. Eugenio L. Riego II) for their illegal and fraudulent activities. And I am ever so glad my friends consulted our group before doing anything.
Please spread this information because more likely than not, a lot more professionals were also targeted by this modus operandi.