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Five Pinays lose more than $300k in love-jobs scam

22 July 2018

The victims had to pawn their passports
to borrow more money for John 

By Daisy CL Mandap

In just over two months, a group of Filipina domestic workers found themselves neck-deep in debt, all because of a charlatan who promised to get them work visas through a tech company he was supposedly setting up.

Banking on that promise, the five Filipinas racked up debts totaling a whopping $312,000, money they said all went to the Egyptian man they identified as John, but whose passport name they gave as Ghonam Aly Elsayed Aly Ibrahim.

But after reportedly demanding increasing amounts of money each month from the victims, saying he needed funds to set up the business and for him to live on, John suddenly cut off contacts with them by the end of last month.

By then, the Filipinas were already facing the fruit of their folly. Debt collectors from the various financing companies and individuals they borrowed money from, began calling them up to demand payment.

As a result, at least three of the alleged victims had their contracts terminated, and they would soon head home penniless and in tears, fearful of the adverse consequences of not being able to pay the huge amounts of money they had borrowed so recklessly.

All five filed statements at the Consulate on Jul 15, with at least one making a separate complaint at the Central Police station. Everyone was desperately seeking advice, wary of the notorious debt collectors that were closing in on them, and worried they could no longer work in Hong Kong.

The alleged scam unfolded on Feb. 18 this year, when Vivian - who was among those who complained - met John, a good-looking man who said he was from Alexandria, Egpyt, in a park in Hong Kong. 

John, who was on tourist visa, reportedly wanted to look for a job in Hong Kong, but he had no money. He allegedly said he could also set up his own IT company from home, but he must need at least a computer and an iPad.

Vivian responded to this by borrowing $30,000 from a financing company so John could buy whatever he needed for his business, and to pay the recruitment agency that would help him find a job.

Not long after, they became a couple.

But soon, John’s needs began to include his daily meals and accommodation, forcing Vivian to borrow heavily. In the end, she said her losses had run up to no less than $110,000.

Still, John reportedly kept asking for more that Vivian had to look for other people who could help put up the money for him.

That was when Mariz, whom Vivian met at the training centre they both attended in the Philippines prior to deployment, came into the picture.

Mariz, a single mother of three who had been working in Hong Kong for only 15 months, was easily lured by the promise of transitioning from maid to staff at an IT company that she readily took out a loan of $20,000 on Apr 15 to give to John.

At one point, she said Vivian even managed to get her to sign the loan agreement for an iPhone 8 that they bought for John in Worldwide Plaza.

Mariz ended up borrowing a total of $80,000 for him.

But so impressed was she of John’s vision, and also allegedly because of Vivian’s relentless nudging, that Mariz enticed a 24-year-old niece to also borrow money to help set up their dream company. This young newcomer ended up with debts totaling $63,000.

A friend who also quickly fell into the trap reportedly ended up indebted by $52,000; while a friend of this friend lost “a mere” $7,000 because she got into the picture much later than they did, and even managed to make Vivian pay $2,000 of her original $9,000 loan.

According to Mariz, they were told to borrow money nearly every week that on their days off they would look for all possible sources, even the loan sharks who demanded their passports and work contracts as collateral.

At one stage when she began entertaining doubts about the whole scheme, Mariz said she was told by Vivian that she already had a two-year work visa and had paid for a flat that she and John would move into. That reportedly erased whatever doubts she had in her mind.

Thus, when John had to leave for Macau at the end of his three-month visitor visa, Mariz said she even went there on her day off to deliver some of the borrowed money. She said John and Vivian gave her money for her boat fare, but the loaned amounts were delivered to them intact.

That was the first and only time she met the man who would soon leave
them all with a mountain of debts, and a shattered future.

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