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Filipina jailed 14 months for theft of boss’ credit card

07 March 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina domestic helper who stole the newly approved credit card of her employer last year and used it to withdraw cash and buy a drink, was sentenced on Feb. 22 to 14 months in jail. Jae Marie Barrion, 40, cried as police escorts led her away after her sentencing.

Earlier in the day, District Court Judge C.P. Pang convicted Barrion of theft after she pleaded guilty to six charges, including stealing the credit card and using it to withdraw cash.

In handing down the sentence, Pang rejected the defense’s claim in mitigation that Barrion was driven to theft by the acute financial need of her family back home. The court was told the accused has a three-year-old son, her husband has been jobless for 15 years; and she had a sick grandmother who needed medication but had now passed away.

“I do not accept the defense’s submission that she stole the credit card because her family in the Philippines needed money badly,” Pang said.

“She breached the trust of her employer by committing the offense. The theft was not just one incident but done over two months,” the judge said, adding that when Barrio could no longer withdraw cash because she had exceeded the credit limit, she used the stolen card to buy herself a drink at 7-Eleven.

The court heard that in August last year, Barrion’s employer applied for a Visa credit card with HSBC, which the bank approved. The bank mailed the credit card to the employer’s address and when it arrived on Aug 11, Barrion stole the card and waited for the password. When the password was finally delivered by mail, the helper took it and used it to activate the card on Sept 13.

Barrion first withdrew $10,000 from an ATM at the MTR Tai Po Market station using the stolen card on Sept 18, and used it again at the same ATM on Sept 20 to withdraw another $10,000.

The defendant tried to make further cash withdrawals of $10,000 each on Sept 27 and Oct 7 from the same ATM in Tai Po Market, but was unsuccessful as she had already exceeded the card’s withdrawal limit.

Hoping the card would be reactivated, Barrion went to a 7-Eleven on Oct 9 and used the card to buy a drink for $15.

On Oct 15 the employer followed up her credit card application with HSBC but was told that her card had already been activated.  She informed the police and dismissed Barrion on the same day.
The court was told that on Oct 16 the Filipina went to the Immigration Department to try to apply for a visa extension but she was arrested.
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