No easy money
I live in a town where happy and simple people eat simple food; where peace, rather than war, thrives. But, one day, a thief dressed in a friendly shirt came.
With the humility of a lamb, he introduced himself to the poor and to the well-off individuals and families in the community. He made promises that sounded glaringly attractive.
His tongue was deceitful and full of flattery, but we didn’t know that then. He took the hearts of men and placed a spirit of idleness and obsession for possessions in them.
Day after day, people called on him as if calling unto a god. His word was treated like law, and the town was besotted with what he promised: a life of instant abundance and immediate prosperity, which was in reality a carefully and cleverly planned snare.
The fateful day came when the thief undressed and threw away his friendly shirt. He fled the town and took with him a cartload of hopes and dreams.
He stole not just money in the millions, but also the future of many of the town’s residents.
What was left in our place and in the adjacent barangays and cities? Panic. Anxiety. Remorse. Revenge.
Some lost their sanity. Some killed themselves. Some just decided to live with their insurmountable debt. Otherwise good guys became bad folk when cheated, so they engaged in deception as well and robbed their neighbors and even their own blood.
The town became a dark, miserable and sad place. Suspicion abounded among friends and neighbors. It was a tragic and unhappy time.
Most people from our town invested in what was called Aman Futures.
In the beginning, the promise of prosperity propagated and seemed to fascinate everyone. There were stories of paupers instantly becoming princesses, and the sight of new cars around the city by those who were said to have invested in the scheme.
Politicians also endorsed it. No way could it be a scam, most people thought, because government officials were themselves bragging about the fantastic returns on their investments. Should I mention the many church leaders who also invited their members to get involved in the venture?
Many in the community willingly parted with their cash and eagerly waited for two weeks or so to get the money back, now bigger at roughly 20- to 30-percent interest.
Easy money. To an economist, it was too good to be true. But when you heard testimonies everywhere, or when you saw tangible evidence of material wealth left and right, studying the scheme more closely was the last thing you wanted to do. The advertisement was the real deception.
But when Aman Lending Corp. finally unraveled as a gigantic pyramid scam, the newly rich were suddenly no longer the local royalty they had made themselves out to be, and the flashy new cars were retrieved one by one from their bankrupt owners. The city was left destitute, embarrassed and on its knees. That year, I experienced a very cold Christmas and New Year.
That was seven years ago. I was a newly registered nurse then, and unemployed. It wasn’t easy to hear the anguished laments of friends and families around me.
I don’t ever want to be deceived again, so, these days, I pack myself with knowledge and wisdom that we can only get from the Almighty. And we pray for our significant others, that they may not be misled or betrayed as well.
The hard lesson we learned is this: “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.” Proverbs 13:11 says it well!
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Grace Gladys May G. Dayuha, 27, renders service in a hospital six days a week, 12 hours per day, 16 hours once in five days. She receives a P2,000 monthly allowance as a postgraduate intern doctor; she bet her entire savings of P5,000 seven years ago in the Aman scam.
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