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Filipina withdrew $1.8M using ATM cards belonging to fellow DHs, court told

08 November 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The suspect was allegedly seen withdrawing money from ATMs in Jordan late at night (File)

A Filipina former domestic helper appeared in court again today, Nov 8, accused of withdrawing a total of $1.84 million from bank accounts using ATM cards pawned by other domestic workers as security for quick loans or part-time job offers.

Charity A. Marquez, 45 is charged with four counts of money laundering. Prosecutors said she was already an overstayer in Hong Kong, as her domestic helper visa expired on Aug. 30.

No plea was taken from her, and Kowloon City Magistrate Peony Wong remanded her in custody after the prosecution asked for a 12-week adjournment for further investigation.

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Marquez has been in custody since early on Jul 27, when she was arrested just hours before she was to fly to Manila after allegedly withdrawing $72,000 from ATM booths in Jordan.

A few hours earlier, 28 other people, including 23 Filipinas and Indonesian who all work as domestic helpers, were arrested in a two-day police operation against suspected money launderers who made their illicit money from romance scams.

The domestic helpers whose ATM cards were used in the scams have told investigators they surrendered them in exchange for loans amounting to $2,000 to $4,000.


Others said they were lured by online advertisements of internet part-time jobs that paid up to $1,500 a week and were asked to hand over their ATM cards or open bank accounts as a condition for getting hired.

Shortly after turning their ATM cards over to the operators, the helpers said they got calls from their banks alerting them to some suspicious activity in their accounts.

The prosecution asked for a three-month adjournment, saying the police needed time to review 743 bank statements and analyze 390 hours of bank CCTV footages.


“There are a lot of bank accounts and ATN card activities to be examined. It takes a very long investigation,” the prosecutor said.

Marquez asked the magistrate if the adjournment could be shortened, saying her family is already worried about her situation.

When Wong asked if she wanted to apply for bail, Marquez offered $300 to guarantee her provisional release and also promised to stay at a friend’s house in Yau Ma Tei.

The prosecutor immediately opposed bail, saying Marquez’s case is serious.

The suspect was reportedly arrested as she was handing over the money to 2 Nigerian men 

The magistrate was told that at the time of her arrest, Marquez was seen handing over a plastic bag containing the money that she had just withdrawn to two foreign men, presumably her handlers.

Officers taking part in “Operation Morningray” arrested Marquez and two Nigerian men who were alleged to be key players in the romance scam and laundering activity in the Jordan area.

They recovered $72,000 and 73 ATM cards in the plastic bag, the prosecutor said.

In a subsequent raid on the flat where Marquez stayed, police recovered a further $65,000 cash and various items of clothing that she wore on previous occasions that she withdrew money from the ATM machines.

In a statement issued after the arrests, the police said they discovered that bank accounts belonging to the FDHs were used to launder $27 million obtained through romance and telephone scam victims made up of 20 local Chinese victims and three firms.

Marquez, who claimed that she was just helping her friend, Julia, who ran the money laundering operation, will be back in court on Feb. 4.

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