Internet scam convict tells previous victim he has $2M coming


Benny K. Pangelinan, a former Coastal Resources Management official who’s been twice convicted for his involvement in Internet scams, allegedly approached again a relative that he previously victimized of more than $20,000 to claim he has $2 million in a bank but that he just he needed to pay $850 to pay a “Customs fee” so the funds could be released to him.

The allegation prompted Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona to approve a request by the U.S. Probation Office to summon to Pangelinan to court and explain why his probation term should not be revoked.

U.S. Probation Officer Gregory F. Arriola stated in his report that U.S. Probation Officer Margarita Wonenberg had received a call on June 17, 2015, from one of Pangelinan’s previous victims.

The victim disclosed that Pangelinan had stopped by her residence on two separate occasions, asking for money apparently to pay Customs taxes to release his money out of holding. The victim said she already gave Pangelinan $450.

Wonenberg informed the victim that Pangelinan’s contact with the victim was a violation of his probation conditions. Wonenberg instructed the victim not to give Pangelinan more money.

Upon the U.S. Probation Office’s instruction, the victim and her husband reported to the U.S. Probation Office last June 24 to further explain what happened.

The victim disclosed that on May 28, 2015, Pangelinan stopped by their residence at 10am, without their invitation. She stated that she informed Pangelinan that the court prohibited him from contacting them.

She said Pangelinan acknowledged this, but then informed them that there was money for him in a Bank of Guam account totaling $2 million.

Pangelinan claimed that an individual was on Saipan to hand deliver documents and a bank card to him. He did not elaborate on the identity of this person.

Pangelinan informed her that he needed $850 to pay a “Customs fee” to have the money released to him, but did not have enough money to make the full payment.

The victim said she gave Pangelinan $250 that day.

On June 4, 2015, the victim reported that Pangelinan returned to their home to ask for more money. She said Pangelinan advised her he was unable to raise the $850 and was considering asking others, possibly one of his cousins, to assist him raise the money.

The victim gave Pangelinan $200 more that day. He informed her that he would keep her updated with the progress of his $2 million.

When two weeks had passed without any contact from Pangelinan, the victim contacted Wonenberg about it last June 17.

She noted that on that same day, her husband went to Pangelinan’s residence to confront him about returning the money.

Later that day, Pangelinan stopped by their residence and returned the $450.

That afternoon, however, Pangelinan, returned to their residence to show her a letter that was addressed to him. The victim was only able to read the first part of the letter when her husband interrupted and chased Pangelinan from their house.

When asked why she kept giving Pangelinan money even after he victimized her and her husband of more than $20,000, she said he is a family member and was very convincing.

Last June 25, Pangelinan reported to the U.S. Probation Office as instructed for a noncompliance meeting.

Probation officer Arriola said Pangelinan admitted it was a mistake for him to approach the couple against court orders. Pangelinan admitted asking them for money and that he received $450 from his relative.

He also admitted telling them that an individual was on Saipan to deliver documents and a bank card to him. He clarified that it’s only $100,000 in the bank account and not $2 million. He also stated that the “Customs fee” was $650 and not $850.

Probation officer Arriola said Pangelinan later explained that he fabricated the story as he was on the verge of having his power disconnected and needed $650 to pay his utilities.

Pangelinan said he returned the $450 after learning from a Commonwealth Utilities Corp. representative that he would not be disconnected.

Pangelinan said the letter that he showed was the one he got via email from an Internet contact sometime in 2005 to 2006 related to his previous case.

Pangelinan denied accessing the Internet again without the U.S. Probation Office’s permission.

Arriola said they verified through CUC bills and found out that Pangelinan’s bill for June totaled $561 and did not match the $650 he reported earlier. Pangelinan explained he misread the bill.

The officer pointed out that the victim said he contacted them last May, but they found out this month that his CUC balance was only $382.

Pangelinan denied that the meeting was in May.

For his supervision compliance, Pangelinan paid his special assessment fee in full, his retirement wages are being garnished at a rate of $400 a month as payment toward his restitution. He completed his 50 hours of community service and submitted to the collection of a DNA sample.

In February 2014, the federal court imposed a three-year probation sentence on Pangelinan for wire fraud for his involvement again in an Internet scam.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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