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Fake PHL embassy website targets OFWs, jobseekers

18 October 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre is warning Hong Kong-based OFWs against an online illegal recruitment scam that uses the name of the Philippine embassy in London to lure them into applying for non-existent jobs in Britain.

He made the warning after helping three Filipina domestic workers from falling prey to the scam last month by telling them not to send money to the scammers.

Labatt Dela Torre said he had alerted the Philippine Overseas Employment Office about the case. It is now being handled by the POEA’s Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch, a member unit of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking.

This is how the fake website looks like.

In a separate Facebook post, he urged remittance companies not to become unwitting conduits for the payment of fees to illegal recruiters, and to alert governments by hoisting the red flag on suspicious transactions.

He said the three women were told to send their payments through Western Union to a certain Myra Tiongson Arugay in Tuguegarao and Sarah Jean Pedregosa Macawile in Quezon City.

But he said the names could be fictitious or the two could be real persons whose names and photos had been stolen.

Labatt dela Torre revealed that he had advised one of the would-be victims during a meeting to withhold her payment until an entrapment operation had been put in place.

“But how can you set up an entrapment when the remittance company doesn’t want to cooperate?” he asked in frustration.

Remittance firms that do not cooperate “should be investigated and, if warranted, have their license to operate revoked”, he said in another Facebook post.

He said the scam had been around for six months, but it was only last month that the victims had surfaced and sought help. 

The exposure of the scam follows the disclosure in August of another online recruitment fraud that faked the signature of Philippine Labor Attaché Rey Conferido in London on purportedly verified and authenticated work documents of a British agency offering Filipinos incredibly high-paying blue-collar jobs in Britain.

In the latest caper, the scammers created a fake website of the Philippine Embassy in London accessible via https://londonphilembassy.wixsite.com/recruitment/copy-of-contact.

Among the four agents named, and whose photo appears on the site, is Macawile.

The obviously fake email address the agency provided the three would-be victims was londonphilippineembassy. gov.uk @gmail.com.

In a post on Facebook on Sept 30, Labatt Dela Torre said: “The war against cross-border illegal recruitment has become a desperate battle to get the information across to gullible recruits, and to employ technology to hunt down, and take down, faceless and shadowy scammers who prey on the vulnerable through internet-based websites…

“But at the end of the day, the success or failure of the campaign against recruitment predators and human-traffickers depends on every recruit being aware of, and avoiding the risks of internet-based recruitment scams.”

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