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Why the lack of police action in Ylagan’s case?

08 October 2017

Why are the police not filing charges against elusive recruiter Ester Ylagan despite claims by hundreds of Filipino domestic workers that she had deceived them into paying thousands of money for non-existent jobs in Britain and Canada?

This was the question asked by this writer during a crime prevention seminar for Filipino domestic helpers at the Central Police Station on Sept 24.

Chief Inspector Kevin Leung hinted this may be because there was no indication of fraud or deception in the case.

Complaints against employment agencies in Hong Kong normally have two aspects that police look at before they proceed with a case, said Leung. One is the police aspect, in which the law enforcers would check if fraud or deception was involved. The other aspect belongs to the Labour Department’s law enforcement unit.

“What we are concerned about is deception, we have to look for some elements,” Leung, police community relations officer of the Central Police District, said.

For example, he said, in cases where an agency had asked domestic helpers for a fee so they could be placed for jobs overseas, police have to prove that when money was paid, the agency knew the jobs did not or could not exist’ and yet collected payment.

If the agency knew beforehand that there were no jobs but still collected money, then there was deception, the officer said.

The officer said if it was proved that at the time she asked for money, the agency owner genuinely thought that the jobs existed, there was no offense. But if she knew then that there were no jobs but still asked for money, there was fraud, he said.

“In Hong Kong, fraud is a criminal offense,” he said. In the case mentioned, the police had to prove criminal intent,” he said.

When told that this was not likely because Ylagan, who was in the recruitment industry for decades, could not have possibly known that the jobs she was offering to the applicants in exchange for between $10,000 and $12,000 in fees were too good to be true.

Her promotional leaflets said all sorts of jobs were available in the two prime destinations, and the promised monthly pay was at least 2,000 pounds, even for those without experience in the jobs they were applying for.

It was only when applicants started demanding their money back that Ylagan hightailed it to Central Police station, and claimed she had been duped by an unknown business partner of $2.4 million, money she had obviously collected from the jobseekers.

Leung replied that he could not comment on the case because other officers handled the complaints. He said he would ask the concerned unit for details.

“We will try our best to deal with this case” and get someone to give the police version of the case, he said. - VBL

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