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Probe of Emry’s, Peya cases drags on after 4-5 years

21 July 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Police shutting down Mike's and Emry's offices in World-Wide House (File)

Police investigation of two big cases that reportedly victimized more than 1,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong has dragged on for between four and five years, with no cases being filed against alleged perpetrators.

The first case involves a fake jobs scam allegedly perpetrated in 2016 by Ester P. Ylagan, owner of Emry’s Service Staff Employment Agency, at that time the biggest recruiter of Filipino domestic workers into Hong Kong. 


At least 400 people have claimed to have lost a total of $10 million after applying for non-existent jobs in Canada and Britain through Mike's Secretarial Services, another employment agency owned by Ylagan.

The second is the one involving the defunct Peya Travel Agency, which was accused by hundreds of mostly Filipino domestic workers of misusing the money they paid for their air tickets, leaving them unable to fly home for Christmas in 2017.

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A spokeswoman said today, Jul 21, that police continue to investigate Ylagan, 66, for “conspiracy to defraud” and “dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offence,” or money laundering.

Complainants alleged they had been duped by Ylagan into paying $10,000 each for fake jobs in the UK and $15,000 for similar jobs in Canada. 


The officer said Ylagan “was released on police bail and is requested to report back to police in early September.” 

It is not clear why she is not required to report on a monthly basis, as with other suspects who are out on bail.

Edwina Antonio, the case officer at the Mission for Migrant Workers who has helped the complainants pursue the case, reacted with disgust to the police update.


Habang tumatagal ang resulta ng kaso laban kay Ester Ylagan, three years na nga, lalong tumatagal ang inhustisya sa mga nabiktima. Nasaan ang hustisya? Tatlong taon na,” Antonio said. (As the result of the case against Ester Ylagan drags on, it’s been three years, the longer the injustice to the victims rankles. Where is justice? It’s been three years.) 

Police descend on Peya's office on Christmas Day, 2017 (file)

The case of the Peya Travel Agency flight booking fiasco may end up doubly heartbreaking for its victims, who were mostly domestic workers.

More than three and a half years on, police have all but dropped the case involving the defunct travel agency which operated out of  World-Wide Plaza in Central.


A spokesperson for the Hong Kong Police told The SUN that Peya’s managing director Rhea Donna “Yanyan” Boyce and marketing manager Arnold Grospe have both been released with no charges being filed against either of them.

“They have not been rearrested and, as such, have no police bail and are not required to report to the police every month,” the spokeswoman said.

However, she said the police has not closed the case, and is still seeking legal opinion and gathering evidence.

Boyce, who was 38 at the time, was arrested in her house in Wanchai on Christmas day 2017, but was released on police bail after being questioned for two days. Her Australian husband Peter was also initially arrested but was later dropped from the case.

Grospe, who was then 49, was the first to be invited for questioning but was not initially arrested. On Jun 6, 2018, he was picked up in Central for his suspected involvement in a fraud conspiracy, but was subsequently released on police bail.

The flight booking mess unraveled just days before Christmas in 2017 when about 200 travelers, mostly Filipino domestic helpers headed home for family reunions, were not allowed by airlines to board their flights.

It turned out the carriers had refused to honor their bookings because Peya owed them a lot of money.

Anger and frustration over their aborted flights drove hundreds of ticket-buyers to descend on the travel agent’s office on Dec 19, 2017 to demand a refund and compensation.

The police initially said as many as 645 people had complained against Peya and estimated the sum involved to be about $2 million. But the Consulate said later about 1,200 people had sought their help in filing complaints and claiming a refund.

Eventually, Cathay Pacific and Philippine Airlines decided to step in by sending bigger planes to Hong Kong and offering “distress fare” to the bumped-off passengers.

Cebu Pacific also stepped up to the plate by offering 50 free tickets to the affected travelers on a first-come, first-served basis. The offer was later matched by the Department of Foreign Affairs through a deal hatched with PAL.

But there were many others who were unable to board their flights or get a refund.

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