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Macau DH jailed 2 months for taking out loan using expired contract

08 March 2019

Francisco was arrested at the Sheung Wan ferry terminal as she tried to re-enter HK from Macau

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Macau-based Filipina domestic worker was jailed for two months on Mar 8 for using an expired work contract to take out a $20,000 loan in 2016, then disappeared after paying the first few installments.

Melessa Francisco, 27, pleaded guilty to “obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception” before Magistrate Peter Law in Eastern Court.
Francisco’s sentencing came a month after she was arrested at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan while trying to re-enter the SAR on Feb 7.

She was charged in court the next day and was not allowed to post bail for having absconded in 2017.

The charge stemmed from her taking out a loan from Prime Credit on Jul 16, 2016 using her contract that had already been terminated.

Despite finding a new employer, she only paid back the first $2,100 monthly installment, prompting the lending company to investigate, and uncover the deception.
The financing company complained to the police, who were able to locate Francisco and arrest her in December 2017. But she jumped police bail and fled to Macau, where she eventually found a job also as a domestic helper.

During mitigation, the defense counsel said his client had paid back $7,200 to Prime Credit but did not have the payment receipts.
Magistrate Law ordered the prosecutor to contact the lender and verify the repayment record of Francisco. When the case resumed, the prosecutor said the defendant had been able to repay a total of $15,209 including her first installment.

The defense lawyer asked for a lenient sentence, citing that Francisco had pleaded guilty to the charge and repaid the bulk of her loan.

He had said earlier that Francisco was supporting her 55-year-old father and 52-year-old mother in the Philippines.

The magistrate said he considered the Filipina’s guilty plea and gave her a discounted three-month jail sentence. He reduced the sentence further to two months because he said Francisco had repaid a large proportion of the loan.

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