Cheap flights scam: Bogus travel agent falls

By Nancy Carvajal

A 29-year-old woman who allegedly fleeced as much as P25 million from clients of her air travel investment scam was arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in a mall Wednesday (May 2).

Hannaleen Batapa was apprehended after she was caught in the act receiving money from a client. At the NBI office, she appealed for mercy as she vowed to return investors’ money.

“Ayokong makulong. Please give me more time to return your money,” she told a doctor who invested money in her business.

The NBI estimated that Batapa collected as much as P25 million from her fraudulent business based on details of complaints found on her Facebook page.

According to the NBI, Batapa enticed clients to pay P25,000 in exchange for getting tickets to 12 domestic flights anywhere in the country, with the exception of Palawan and Batanes.

Clients can fly with any airline provided they book their trips with her on a three weeks’ notice.

“Batapa was able to attract investors since the tickets practically cost only P2,000. She also claimed the tickets were transferable,” said an NBI agent.

Initial investigation by the NBI showed that Batapa duped a group of educators who paid her P234,000.

She was also found to have scammed 17 teachers and some school officials who planned to use their trip tickets to Boracay on Labor Day.

“The investors told Batapa in a demand letter that friendships were ruined and family relations were strained as a result of her fraudulent ticket selling scheme,” an NBI agent said.

Meanwhile, a doctor who bought plane tickets from Batapa only found out they were fraudulent when his staffers who were supposed to travel were already at the airport.

“My staffers were already in the airport but they were not on the flight manifest. When we called Batapa for an explanation, she claimed there was miscommunication. We later found out that our money was gone,” the doctor said.

Batapa was allegedly able to convince people to invest money with her because of her claim that she works in a big travel agency in Manila.
The NBI, however, found that she wasn’t connected to the company she claims to be her employer.

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