Online lovers, be forewarned: MIAA GM cautions public vs. strangers

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal on Saturday warns the public to be more cautious of strangers, especially those seeking love in the virtual world.

Airport police recently nabbed a suspect in the so-called “package padala scam” in an entrapment operation in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The “package padala scam” is similar to the “internet love scam”. Here, the target victim is supposed to receive a package, usually from a foreigner or someone the person just met online. In this scam, the target victim is asked to give money to a messenger to get the package, usually, purportedly for custom’s duties and taxes.

Complainant Shirley Campones said she was to receive a package from Fred Mc Neil, whom she met online. She told airport police Mc Neil had informed her he was held by customs officials in an airport in Turkey because of some pieces of jewelry in his baggage.

Campones claimed she received a text message from Miriam Kanoute, a Mali national residing in Makati City, asking for a meet-up. The 34-year old Kanoute asked Campones to meet her at a restaurant in NAIA on April 12 to get the package and advised her to bring USD11,000 in exchange for it.

Thinking it was a scam, Campones sought help from MIAA’s Airport Police Department (APD) on the day of the meet-up, and operatives accompanied her at the restaurant.

Operatives were discreetly observing, and when Campones handed the envelope with money to Kanoute, they immediately arrested the latter.

MIAA told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the bag from Kanoute was empty.

“The suspect is still under APD’s custody, and will soon be brought to the Pasay City Jail,” Ma. Consuelo Bungag, MIAA Public Affairs Department’s officer-in-charge, told PNA on Saturday.

She added that inquest proceedings were already done at the Pasay Prosecutor’s Office and that some procedures are yet to be taken.

Based on APD’s report, Campones have previously met with Kanoute in a mall in Makati. Campones claimed Kanoute was accompanied by another foreigner identified as Ronald Morris, and that the meet-up was also with regards to the package from Mc Neil.

Meanwhile, Monreal also enjoins the public to ask help from police authorities in case of doubt. (PNA)