By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
Aug. 8, 2014
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – New developments are taking place in an alleged airline ticket scheme that supposedly swindled dozens of San Diego Filipinos out of thousands of dollars.
After hearing complaints against Elvie’s Travels, the National City Police Department said they are looking for more of Nestor Abulente’s alleged victims as they prepare to arrest him.
Abulente is believed to have sold bogus airline tickets between December of last year to July of this year, prompting angry customers to gather outside his shop in recent months.
“From this original one victim we got back in July, we got up to about 40 victims. We’re estimating there is over $20,000 worth of losses associated with this and we narrowed it down to beginning around December last year. We’re looking at about a 6-month window. It may be larger depending on other victims coming on board,” said Detective Alex Hernandez of the National City Police Department.
The store was raided by police last month, with computer hard drives and evidence seized.
While police are on the lookout for him, they have not been able to locate the embattled shop owner.
“Nestor Abulente will face over 40 charges of fraud when we do locate him. And what we’re asking the public is if they know where he’s at to please call us here at the National City Police Department,” said Hernandez.
Abulente’s neighbors said he was last spotted at the store the morning of the raid with police missing him by a few hours.
A former customer has told us that days after the raid, Abulente told them that he was en route to an emergency in the Philippines.
Investigators are exploring the possibility of Abulente fleeing the area.
“I know the detectives are working that and working in conjunction with the ICE and customs to see if that’s a possibility of him flying out of the country,” the former customer said.
Police are asking the public to contact them at 619-336-4411 if they know Abulente’s whereabouts. They are also encouraging more potential victims to come forward with as many documents as they can.
“Ideally, if they have any kind of paperwork associated with transactions whether it’s a receipt whether it’s a cancelled check, whether a statement…anything that shows that they were doing business at Elvies Travel Boutique,” police said.
Voice mails to Abulente have gone unanswered while his cell phone has been going straight to voice mailbox.
On top of the oncoming fraud charges, many of the victims were seniors. Authorities said some of the fraud cases involving the older customers can also include elder abuse charges.