Two Cameroonian nationals fell for an entrapment operation sprung by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in what has been called the Black Dollar Scam.
The suspected con men would entice their potential victim to cough up money for an alleged lucrative real estate partnership scheme, and use as backup a stash of counterfeit US dollar bills coated in black supposedly to evade detection by customs and monetary authorities.
They had victimized another foreign national, a Jordanian, who smelled fraud and reported the scam to the law enforcement establishment, who then set up the entrapment in collaboration with officials from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
They became known to each other through the internet, using the Facebook social media platform, and they presented themselves as investors looking for a business partner to buy a hotel operation.
At one of the meetings, they showed a stack of alleged dollar bills coated in black. By applying a special solvent, the black coating faded away to reveal cash that looked like real American money.
The black dye, they explained, was intended to get around conventional X-ray detection methods used by customs.
They claimed to have the ability to bring in huge amounts of money into the country this way.
Their victim had been persuaded to cough up PhP1 million to procure the chemical solvent for unmasking the money.
It was when they greedily asked for additional investment money that the victim became suspicious and decided to contact the NBI.
The arrested suspects have been booked for syndicated estafa and unlawful use of treasury or bank notes.