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3 tourists arrested after using allegedly fake documents

27 January 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao

Three Filipino tourists have found out the consequences of using alleged fake employment papers to open savings accounts in Hong Kong banks: They have been arrested, detained and are now facing charges of “using a false instrument”.

Magistrate Peter Law set their next hearing at Eastern Court for Feb 19 and ordered the three defendants -- Enrique Vargas, Ryan S. Ilustrisimo and Maureen M. Gutierrez -- remanded in custody after the prosecution opposed their bail applications.

The new date was set after their court-appointed lawyers appeared on Jan 7 and asked for a six-week adjournment of the case for further investigation and legal advice.

In their previous court appearance on Nov 26, the hearing of their case was delayed because no lawyer came to represent them.

Court documents show the three arrived as tourists on Oct. 9. The next day they were arrested when they tried to open individual savings accounts in a Bank of China branch in Admiralty.

But earlier that day, they had successfully opened accounts at a Standard Chartered Bank branch in the area.

The three allegedly presented copies of their purported work contracts to BOC staff as proof that they were locally employed by a Hong Kong man.

The bank staff told them to return with the original contracts, but when they did, police were already waiting for them. It turned out the staff had tried to verify the employer’s name and address but found these to be spurious.

A source at the Consulate said the case appears to be a new scam operated by a money laundering syndicate with a Hong Kong connection.

One of the defendants’ relatives who attended the Nov 26 hearing said her cousin replied to an advertised offer on Facebook of a free trip to Hong Kong.

He and the two other defendants were reportedly selected and briefed by two Filipino men about their trip.

The two Filipino handlers reportedly escorted the three defendants to Hong Kong and to the two bank branches but slipped away before the police arrived at the BOC branch.


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