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Labatt sets sights on new alleged Russia job scam

20 November 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre 
A recruitment agency in Kowloon is being watched by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office for allegedly charging $43,000 to $45,000 for fake or non-existent jobs in Russia.

Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre disclosed the new scam on Nov 9, just a fortnight after he warned domestic workers in Hong Kong against a post by Filipino Nanny Ltd claiming that Russia was still issuing work visas, without disclosing that these do not cover domestic work.

In a online post on Nov 9, the labor official disclosed that an agency in Kowloon had asked for $43,000 from an OFW for a “work visa” – in reality, a commercial visa – issued by the Russian consulate in Hong Kong or embassy in Manila based on an invitation to a fake position in a spurious firm in Russia.

Dela Torre said the fake position described the applicant’s profession as doctor, dentist, manager, company director, specialist, etc.

When the applicant could not pay up, the Filipina recruiter allegedly went to the Philippines and harassed her parents until they signed papers acknowledging the”debt” and pledged their certificate of land ownership as beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

 “A lawyer of the human trafficker now serves as accomplice by continually harassing the parents with collection demand letters,” the labor attaché said.

Dela Torre said the same agency charged $45,000 from Filipinas it sends to Russia and then “just practically abandons our women, leaving them to deal with not having a job for months, playing hide and seek with the police, having to pay off debts in the Philippines and Hong Kong, and all the while coping with being trapped in a vicious circle of debt and desperation.”

He told The SUN the agency had many victims who were preparing affidavits detailing how they had been duped.

Once he receives the affidavits from Russia, Labatt Dela Torre will endorse the case to the Hong Kong Labour Department for prosecution, he said.

He urged would-be victims to be wary of these illegal recruiters. “All our efforts at hunting down human traffickers and illegal recruiters are for nothing if the would-be victims continue to ignore or be complicit with the offenders,” Dela Torre said.

He warned OFW jobseekers against Hong Kong agencies recruiting for Russia, Mongolia, or Kazakhstan, saying these are ruining the lives of their recruits.

 “They promise (recruits) a life of ease and excellent working conditions in these countries. Instead, what our workers find after landing is that they’ve been lied to. There are no jobs waiting,” Dela Torre said.

The commercial visa that most of them secure in Hong Kong does not allow them to work, and has to be renewed every three months. The more desirable “working” visas, on the other hand, are expenaive as they need companies to sign on as sponsors. They reportedly cost between US$3,500 to US$5,000.

 “The question is: why is the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong issuing these commercial visas?” Dela Torre asked.

To show how bad the situation of the illegal recruitment victims in Russia is, the labor attaché hooked up a former Mindanao community leader in Hong Kong now working in Russia to an online video chat with her former friends in the SAR.

All the friends burst into tears during the video chat and could only offer consolation to the victim, Dela Torre said.

He uncovered the apparently new modus on Nov 9, weeks after he foiled the latest attempt by a Pakistani-Filipina couple in Moscow to recruit OFWs for illegal work in Russia.

But the Pakistani recruiter who goes by the name Jon Meer on Facebook, is unrepentant. He recently posted a message on Facebook, inviting applicants for a nanny/cleaner position and offering a salary of 55,000-60,000 rouble ($7,222-$7,882).

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