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Filipina resident admits recruiting 26 people for bogus jobs

03 June 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Defendant Mila B. Fernandez admitted 9 counts relating to the illegal recruitment in Eastern Court

A 45-year-old Filipina resident pleaded guilty Wednesday, June 2, in Eastern Court to nine charges relating to her recruitment of 26 people for non-existent jobs and failing to refund the money they paid her.

Mila B. Fernandez admitted the charges in her first court appearance since her separate arrests on Dec 13 last year and Feb 26 this year. Magistrate Paul Yip ordered her remanded in custody before sentencing her on Jun 16.

Yip has asked for a probation officer’s report, a community service report and a background report before sentencing Fernandez. He also said he will deal with a call for a compensation order on that day.

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The defendant begged to be given a chance but the magistrate said her case involved serious charges.

“Defendant, while on paper there seem to be only two victims, in fact there are many more. Your sentence is still open,” Yip said.

The charges involved two counts of offering non-existent jobs, two counts of misrepresenting herself as employee of two different employment agencies, and five counts of offering but failing to give a full refund of payments made by applicants.


The offenses took place between Jan 20, 2019 and Aug 31, 2020.

Customs and Excise prosecutors lumped all the charges under one heading, “Applying a false trade description to a service supplied or offered to be supplied to a consumer.”

Court records show that in December 2018, Fernandez met foreign domestic worker Charito Delfino who had gone to ACJ Recruitment Services to meet with her employer. Fernandez said she was a secretary of the company who handled documents for Immigration processing.


In late January 2019, Delfino heard from a friend that the defendant was finding applicants for job vacancies at a monthly salary of $5,000 and food allowance of $1,100.

Fernandez told Delfino there were jobs for yacht cleaners, dog walkers, and babysitters with processing to take 4 to 6 months. In all, 14 of Delfino’s kin were interested.

Fernandez said the placement fee was $3,500 upfront and $500 after the hired worker gets his first salary. On Feb 5, 2019, Delfino gave the defendant $3,000 as down payment for two applicants. The defendant told Delfino the payment would be refunded.

On Feb 10, Delfino, escorted by two friends, gave Fernandez $15,000 as down payment for 10 applicants. On Feb 17, they gave Fernandez a further $10,500 as down payment for one applicant and the outstanding payment for six others. No receipts were issued.

In all, Delfino gave the defendant $28,500 and Php10,000 as full payment for six applicants and down payment for 8 applicants.

Later, Fernandez collected documents from the 14 jobseekers, but they discovered four months later that she had been dismissed by ACJ and that the company did not handle the applications.

Fernandez contacted Delfino later, and said she had moved to another employment agency, World Wide Company, and transferred all the applications there.

Delfino demanded a refund of the money she paid but Fernandez said she could only pay back in $1,500 installments, but she didn’t. On Oct 27, Delfino complained to the Consulate and a meeting was set for Sept 1 but the defendant didn’t appear.

As none of the 14 applications succeeded, Delfino filed a complaint at Customs & Excise and Fernandez was arrested on Feb 26 this year.

The duped jobseekers were male relatives of 2 Filipina DHs

Another victim, helper Arlene Alday, reported that she met Fernandez after a friend told her about Fernandez recruiting applicants for the same jobs that she offered Delfino.

The defendant told Alday she had worked for World Wide Consultancy Agency for 16 years and sent her the address of the company. She later called Alday and told her an employer in Shek O was looking for a houseboy at $5,000 a month and food allowance of $1,000.

lday subsequently referred to the defendant 12 of her relatives and friends. Nine of the 12 paid the defendant through Western Union, and then sent the remittance receipts to her. Alday paid for the fees of her brother and two brothers-in-law.

The 12 applicants paid Fernandez a total of $36,220.35. When their applications were fruitless after 3 to 5 months, Alday withdrew them and asked a full refund. Fernandez returned $3,214 to three applicants in the sums of $731.30, $1,483.50 and $1,000.

Alday filed a complaint against the defendant at the Consulate and a meeting was set but Fernandez did not show up. The victim filed a complaint at the Customs on Jul 6 last year and on Dec 13, the defendant was arrested but released on bail.

Immigration confirmed no visa applications were filed for the applicants. The Labour Department said Fernandez was not WWC staff and was not licensed to recruit. The owner of WWCA, which shut in 2015, said she never worked for the company.  

The prosecution said the defendant, a Hong Kong resident for 27 years, has no criminal record. Her husband, who is jobless, is looking after her two sons aged 14 and 9 years in the Philippines.

Fernandez, who wasn’t represented by a lawyer, said in mitigation she was willing to pay back the victims by installment, but her salary now as a secretary in a Tsim Sha Tsui firm was only $10,500 a month and she sends home Php10,000 each month to her two young sons.

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