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Maid in deep worry as male friend uses her ATM card to move $1.2m

21 July 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

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Never lend your bank ATM card to anyone.

This was the advice Jennifer (not her real name), a Filipina domestic worker, heard from everyone when she realized too late that the card she had lent a male friend was being used in illicit cash transfers totaling more than $1.2 million.

Jennifer sought advice from a helpers’ online group in late June after receiving a phone call from her bank asking her if she had a joint account with another person. It turned out her ATM card had been used repeatedly by her online boyfriend for illegal money transfers.

The latest case emerged just two weeks after another Filipina, Estrella Gumabay, was jailed 12 months for her role in laundering nearly $1.6 million of suspected “love scam” money by lending her two ATM cards to a male friend she met online.
Jennifer said in her online appeal for help that she was alerted to her boyfriend’s illicit activities after hearing from the bank. The group in turn referred her to The SUN, who helped her report the matter to the Consulate and the police.

Jennifer, who has been in Hong Kong for just three years, said she met the man on a dating site in late March this year.

About a month later, the man asked her to open a bank account, and then to lend him her ATM card, saying he needed a bank account from where he could draw his salary, but he didn’t have any in his name.
Jennifer opened an account with $1,000 of her own money as opening deposit, then gave the ATM card to her friend. Soon after, large sums of money began moving in and out of her account.

For the period April 20- May 15 alone, more than $750,000 had passed through her savings account in amounts ranging from $100 to $50,000. Each time a large sum was deposited, it would almost be immediately withdrawn.

Then on May 21, a huge deposit of around $500,000 was made to her savings account, while a separate one for $20,000 was deposited into her current account.
A deposit of $24,000 was made into the savings account a week later, but withdrawn the same day.

That was the last transaction made into her accounts, leaving the $20,000 in her current account before the money flow halted.

The police are now investigating.

At least three other similar attempts to use Filipina helpers in money laundering were disclosed on the same online page, DWC Help Group, before Jennifer came forward.

But fellow workers who are aware of the scam warned the target Filipinas of the danger they would get into if they allowed their bank accounts to be used as conduits of money-laundering criminals.  

“Huwag kang papayag, Sis. Ikaw ang makukulong diyan,” warned one commenter.

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