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Filipina HK resident accused of fleecing $112k from OFWs by offering fake jobs

11 December 2019

By Daisy CL Mandap

Fernandez allegedly collected at least $112k  but offered no real jobs

Nine Filipina domestic workers have complained to the Consulate about losing at least $112,000 from a former staff of an employment agency who allegedly offered them non-existent jobs for their male relatives back in the Philippines.

They identified the alleged scammer as Mila Bodomo Fernandez, a resident of Smithfield Street, Kennedy Town, who used to work at the ACJ International Recruitment Services Company with an office in Excellente Commercial Building on Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay.

Consul Paul Saret, head of the assistance to nationals section, said his office would consolidate the statements and ask each complainant to sign an affidavit before forwarding them all to the police for immediate action.
Fernandez allegedly offered jobs ranging from yacht maintenance staff to houseboy or gardener, and prodded the complainants to apply for their male relatives back in the Philippines, saying she had many employers waiting to hire them.

She allegedly said the offered salary ranged from $5,000 to $7,000, and all that the applicants needed to pay initially was $3,000 and a further $1,000 after their work visa was released.

With another group of applicants, she allegedly collected $3,500 each for those without a Tesda training certificate, and $2,500 each for those who already had it.
One group of complainants said they paid Fernandez a total of $32,500 in February this year, after which she promised them their relatives would already have their work visa by May.

Another group made up of 13 applicants in the Philippines who are represented in their complaint by a longtime Filipino domestic worker in Hong Kong, remitted a total of $43,719.90 (converted from peso) to Fernandez’s HSBC bank account between April and June this year.

Remittance receipts issued to applicants all show Fernandez' name and bank account number

Fernandez allegedly asked the applicants for their bio-data and copies of their passports but never sent them employment contracts, or set up any interview with their prospective employers.

Months after the promised deployment in May did not happen, the first group said they asked Fernandez to just give their money back, but she stopped taking their calls and have blocked them on messenger.
At least one of the complainants, C. Delfino, said in a sworn statement she submitted to the Consulate on Oct 27 that she met Fernandez after ACJ managed to place her with a new employer in December last year. Delfino also said she made her second payment to Fernandez in the ACJ office, but the company manager was not around.

But when Fernandez allegedly started hiding from them, they learned from the company that she had been sacked because of similar complaints from several other people.

The SUN managed to contact Fernandez at the mobile number supplied by the complainants, and she did not deny taking money from them. However, she gave the same excuse that she told all of them: that all the employers who were supposed to hire their relatives had backed out.

She was unable to respond when asked why not one of the applicants was given an employment contract as should have happened from the time they gave her money.

Fernandez also vaguely spoke of using the money she collected for buying air tickets, but could not say who the tickets were for. She just said she was willing to pay the complainants back, and in fact, had started doing so by installment.

This claim was vehemently disputed by A. Alday, who after being meeting Fernandez through a mutual friend, got 13 relatives and friends in Iloilo to apply for the promised jobs.

“Urgent daw mga amo kaya pinipilit niyang magbayad agad, at kung ma delay ang payments sasabihan nya ang aplikante na e- cancel nya ang application,” said Alday in her sworn statement dated Oct 30.

But when it became clear that there were no real jobs were waiting for them, the applicants, who have remittance slips to prove their payment to Fernandez, began clamoring for a refund.

Alday said that to date, Fernandez has refunded only $3,750 of the more than $43,000 she collected from them.

The unlicensed recruiter has reportedly been making up all sorts of excuses for not paying back, like she’s sick, or she was still trying to cash a cheque.

The last time she bugged Fernandez about paying up, Alday said “Kahapon sabi nasa hospital siya at today sabi in a critical condition ang mother nya. Lahat isasali sa kasinungalingan nya.”

One time, Fernandez allegedly said she was at home sick, but only hours later, Alday said she saw her near World Wide House, fully made up and dressed to the nines. Fernandez allegedly ran away when she saw Alday taking pictures.

Like Alday, Delfino has worked in Hong Kong for a long time, 22 years to be exact. All these years, she said she never fell for a scam, and was never in debt, so that the $16,000 she paid Fernandez had come from her life savings.

Two years back, she said she nearly got looped into a similar ploy by the disgraced former employment agency owner Ester Ylagan. But she backed off after failing to get a sign from God on whether she should cough up the required $10,000 for a tempting job placement in the UK.

She now wonders why her sixth sense failed her, or why she forgot to ask for divine intervention again, when a bigger part of her nest egg was at stake.

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