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Consulate offers help to scam victims

02 June 2016

Vice Consul Fatima Quintin
By Vir B. Lumicao

Duped job applicants who fail to collect refunds from employment agencies that ignore tribunal orders to pay up can seek help from the Consulate, according to an official of the assistance to nationals section.
Vice Consul Fatima Quintin, head of the ATN section, said the Consulate could directly bring up such cases with relevant Hong Kong government agencies.
“Kapag ganun, papuntahin lang sila sa amin dito sa Konsulado. We can assist them. We have been coordinating with the relevant agencies of the government to impose the penalties at yung mga payments sa kanila. Meron naman tayong magandang coordination sa kanila, with the departments or tribunals, with the relevant agencies,” Quintin said
“Kahit mia-refer lang ho namin sila with those agencies and then mai-endorse sila for the payment of the penalties,” Quintin said
The affected workers must provide a copy of the court or tribunal decision to bolster their complaints, she added
Quintin made the assurance when The SUN asked her about what the Consulate can do to help OFW victims of job scams who cannot collect claims against the recruiters that duped them despite winning their cases in court.
The SUN cited in particular the victims of Vicks Maid Employment Agency, which collected no less than $10,000 each from several domestic workers in 2014-2015 for purported jobs for their relatives at a luxury resort and golf course in Shenzhen.
The women laid claims against Vicks Maid owner Lennis Ebrahim at the Small Claims Tribunal in September last year. Ebrahim did not show up at the tribunal, so, the adjudicating officer granted the claims to the victims.
But more than eight months after the order was issued, Ebrahim still has to pay up.  The victims say the recruiter could no longer be contacted by phone.
One victim said that when she tried to follow up on her case, she was told that she needed to pay a $2000 fee to the bailiff  to enforce the order. The victim said she could not afford to pay this amount
Vicks Maid was stripped of its license and shut down by the Employment Agency Administration in April after a magistrate court convicted Ebrahim, its licensee, for overcharging a job applicant and changing its address without informing the EAA
Quintin said the Technical Working Group made up of the Labour Department, EAA, Immigration Department, Hong Kong Police and the Consulate, would meet again in June and the Vicks Maid case would be among the issues to be raised by the Consulate.
ATN can also seek advice or guidance from lawyer Melville Boase, the Consulate’s legal consultant, on how the victims can get the tribunal order enforced, Quintin said.
“Meron din namang Legal Aid, so, aside from that, marami namang channels to obtain further legal assistance in order to proceed with the claims kasi kahit tapos na ang kaso, may desisyon na. Siyempre sa kanila hindi pa tapos yung kaso for them (victims), kasi hindi pa sila nababayaran, di ba?Hindi pa nai-impose yung penalties,” Quintin said.
“Pumunta lang sila dito. At least kung hindi man ano, we can help them push for the implementation of the penalty,” she said.
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