NBI arrests scammer pretending to be ‘Sal Panelo’ on social media

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) nabbed on Tuesday, February 26 the man pretending to be Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel (CPLC) Salvador Panelo on social media.

The man, identified as Jose Villafuerte, was arrested in Mandaue, Cebu and has been soliciting “donations” from his victims by pretending to be Panelo on Facebook.

According to the NBI, the social media account bore Panelo’s name and copied and reported posts from the legitimate Facebook account of the CPLC. He was arrested in an operation conducted by the NBI Special Task Force on Thursday, February 21.

“All the legitimate activities and photos exclusively done by the Secretary and the OCPLC are posted as well,” the NBI said.

There were instances where victims who wanted to converse with Panelo and duped into thinking it was the real account would be asked to send money which will be used allegedly as donations to bogus projects being claimed by Villafuerte as his.

During the entrapment operation, the respondent demanded from NBI agents money which he claimed will be used in a rehabilitation project for typhoon victims in Naga City. In exchange, Villafuerte said NBI agents who pretended to be a businessman named Henry Tan will receive contracts from the Department of Health (DOH).

Villafuerte will be facing charges of computer-related identity theft, obstruction of justice, unlawful use of alias, use of falsified documents, falsification of public documents, usurpation of authority and use of fictitious names.

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