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Filipina DH says she lost $30k to same man in love scam

27 October 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

 'Tommy's Facebook profile page carries a religious saying 

A Filipina domestic helper has stepped forward to say the Caucasian-looking man who wooed, then duped a fellow worker of $10,000 a few weeks ago was the same person who fleeced more than $30,000 from her more than two years ago.

Viena, who is 38 years old and married, said that in her case, the scam started in June 2019 when she saw “Tommy Sandro Rivera” post an advertisement for a domestic helper on a Facebook site. She was then about to finish her contract, so she got interested.

The man said he was a Canadian citizen who owned a watch store in Central and was looking for a nanny for his young daughter, Clara. According to Viena, Tommy promised her an 8-hour job in his house in Discovery Bay, with a monthly salary of $6,000, so she immediately said yes.

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A photo Viena sent of the man she knew as Tommy showed it looking like the same person who had tricked another Filipina, Sol, into “lending” him $10,000 earlier this month, supposedly to help him bring his eight-year-old daughter into Hong Kong.

The man who chatted up Sol on a dating site for single parents called Encore, gave his name as Dennise Robert Philips, father to a daughter named Stephanie. This time, he introduced himself as an American businessman who had permanent residency in Hong Kong.

In both cases, the scammer held himself out to be a religious man and a devoted father to his daughter. He also relentlessly pursued them, sending daily messages via messenger and on at least two occasions, showed his face during video chats.

However, on hindsight, it now appears to the women that the supposed live chats  with their scammer were pre-recorded, with the actual voice of the person shown on screen muted while somebody unseen talked over the image.


In Viena’s case, "Tommy" overdid this by reportedly breaking down in tears whenever he talked about his faith, and even reportedly sang religious songs to her over messenger.

Demonyo siya talaga. Ginamit pa ang pangalan ni Jesus, then may pakanta-kanta pa syang nalalaman about God pero demonyo pala,” she said. (He is evil. He used the name of Jesus, even sang about God but he turned out to be the devil himself).

The man must have been very convincing that when he asked Viena for about $3,000 to supposedly pay for the entry visa fee of his daughter, he immediately got what he wanted. His promise then was that he would pay her back as soon as he returned to Hong Kong along with his daughter.


Viena said she showed the supposed invoice for the visa fee amounting to $2,999.70 to her husband in the Philippines, and he agreed that she should lend the supposed employer the money as the promised return was far more.

The Filipina said she used her salary for that month to send money to Tommy using a Hang Seng Bank account that supposedly belonged to his contact in Immigration called Mr Cheung.

'Tommy' aka 'Dennise' is actually Indian, says Viena

As in Sol’s case, the two men alternated in sending messages to the women to further loop them into their web of deceit. The supposed Immigration officer’s role was mainly to assure the women of the other man’s integrity.

But over the next few days, Tommy relentlessly asked Viena for more money for all sorts of excuses, from being detained because he could not pay his rent in Canada, to needing money for bail after he was arrested and taken to a police station. Exactly what Dennise had told Sol.

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Viena said that was when she started borrowing from friends and relatives, and soon became deep in debt.

Paiba-ibang halaga yun, may $3,000, $4,000, $1,500, $2,500, hindi ko na matandaan isa-isa, pero nilagay ko dun sa reklamo ko sa pulis,” she said. (They were in different amounts. One for $3,000,….I cannot remember each one, but I managed to list them down in my complaint to the police).

Once, Tommy even told her to take out a loan using her passport as collateral. Viena said that confirmed her suspicion that the guy was actually an Indian national, as she overheard people around him talking in their language one time they had a chat.

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Kaya nagduda ako kasi alam niya yung pagsasanla ng passport,” she said (That’s when I became suspicious because he knew about using our passport as collateral for a loan).

Despite this, Viena did as she was told, pawning her passport for $3,000 with an acquaintance in her Shatin neighborhood.

From depositing money into a Hang Seng account, Viena was told to remit funds through MoneyGram to a recipient in Benin, and finally, to a bitcoin account using a machine in Mong Kok.

When she realized she could no longer face her friends because of her mounting loans, Viena said she begged Tommy to pay her back. In response, he said he would do this if she agreed to be his girlfriend. After consulting her husband, Viena agreed, thinking it was the only way she knew of getting back her money.

By this time, even her husband was deeply in debt back in the Philippines because of Tommy’s repeated requests for money and promises of paying them all back on his return to Hong Kong.

Once, when she could no longer send money to him, Tommy told Viena she could make up for this by running an errand for him. He said one of his customers was depositing $20,000 to her bank account as payment for a watch. Viena was told to withdraw the cash and deposit it all in the bitcoin account he gave earlier. She complied.

Tommy sent an obviously fake Immigration invoice to entice Viena to send him money 

But when Mr Cheung asked afterwards if Viena could do the same thing for him, she declined, as it was nearing 10 pm and she did not dare leave her employer’s house without permission. What she did not say was that she had finally become suspicious of the tag team's motives.

By then, penniless and up to her neck in debt, Viena finally came to her senses. She went to Shatin Police Station to report the scam, and to the Consulate to apply for a new passport so she could renew her employment contract. 

Until now, Viena said she gets depressed thinking of how foolish she had been in believing the man who offered her a juicy job, but ended up fleecing her for money. 

She said she decided to step forward with her own story after reading the report on how Sol was tricked out of her hard-earned money by the same gang that had victimized her.

Dapat hindi na sila makapangloko pa ng iba,” Viena said. (They should not be allowed to scam any more people).

Anyone who suspects he/she has fallen prey to an online scam should seek help from the nearest police station, or from the assistance to nationals section of the Philippine Consulate on the 14th floor of United Centre Building, 95 Queensway, Admiralty.


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