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Vicks Maid victims fail to get back money

14 May 2016

EAA's complaint hotline
By Vir B. Lumicao

Eight months after they won their cases at the Small Claims Tribunal against a recruitment agency that charged them thousands of dollars for fake jobs in China, at least eight complainants still have to get a full or partial refund of their money.
The agency, Vicks Maid Consultant Company, has been stripped of its license by the Labour Department after its conviction for overcharging a job-seeker and operating an agency at a place not specified in the license.
One of those who won their cases against Vicks Maid told The Sun on Apr 28 that the agency operator, Lennis Ebrahim, had yet to comply with the tribunal’s order to return her money.
The claimant, Jennifer Garcia, said that she was awarded her full claim of $10,000 plus costs in August last year, after Ebrahim failed to appear during the hearing of her case.
She said she tried to get the judgment enforced, but backed out when the tribunal’s bailiff said she needed to pay a $2,000 fee.
Garcia said the Vicks Maid licensee and owner charged her $10,000 for a job at a golf course in China or Saikung for her son. She said her supportive employer lent her money to pay the agency so her son could get a job. 
When the promised employment did not come, Garcia’s employer called up Ebrahim, who sent a check for $10,000. But the check bounced, so the employer helped Garcia to file a case.
Seven other domestic helpers filed a claim against Ebrahim for collecting fees ranging from $10,000 to $40,000, also for fictitious jobs in a resort in Shenzhen.
Again, the agency owner did not show up for the case hearing, so the complainants were granted their full claims. However, not one of the seven has been paid as directed by the tribunal.
Esther Bangcawayan, case officer of the Mission for Migrants, told The SUN that enforcing the awards was difficult because of the bailiff fee that had to be paid upfront.
She said some of the victims accepted Ebrahim’s offer of $500 or $1,000 repayment, rather than not getting back any amount.
But others said “they would just leave it to God, or to karma,” said Bangcawayan,.
On Apr 29, the Employment Agencies Administration revoked Vicks’ Maid license to operate after its conviction for overcharging a jobseeker.
The agency was also found guilty of moving its office from Causeway Bay to Shatin but did not inform the EAA about it.
The agency tried, but failed, to get the license cancellation revoked by the Administrative Appeals Board.
For enquiries or complaints about unlicensed operations or agencies overcharging job-seekers, call the Employment Agencies Administration at 2115 3667, or visit its office at unit 906, 9/F, One Mong Kok Road Commercial Centre, 1 Mong Kok Road, Kowloon.

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