Responsive Ad Slot




Buhay Pinay



Philippine News

Join us at Facebook!

24 FDHs, 5 others arrested as police smash money laundering syndicate

28 July 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Police display money and other items they seized in an earlier money laundering case (File)

Police have arrested 23 Filipina and one Indonesian domestic helpers, as they smashed a romance scam and money laundering syndicate allegedly operated by three Nigerian men and two Filipina residents.

They announced the arrests at a press conference held earlier today, Jul 28.


At least 35 bank accounts in the name of the helpers were reportedly used by the syndicate to launder more than $27 million obtained from at least 20 online romance scams and two email scams carried out from July 2020 to May this year, the police said.

Officers from the Financial Intelligence and Investigation Bureau raided several locations across Hong Kong on Monday and Tuesday in an operation codenamed “Morningray,” and arrested the 29 suspects, mostly from their employers’ homes.

Call us!

The helpers were released on bail with orders to report to the police in late September.

Two Nigerian men believed to be the leaders of the syndicate and another Nigerian and the two Filipina residents who were said to be core members have been detained and still being investigated, the police said.


One of the two alleged ringleaders has a Hong Kong identity card while the other holds a recognizance form, a temporary identification document that allows the bearer to remain in Hong Kong temporarily.

The core members, who include the two Filipina residents, were tasked with finding women willing to open bank accounts, then retrieving the illegal proceeds from ATMs.

Pindutin para sa latest Winners!

All the arrested suspects are being investigated for “conspiracy to deal with property known or believed to be proceeds of an indictable offense,” or money laundering.

Investigators said the group has been operating for about a year, offering monetary rewards as little as $1,000 to induce the 24 helpers to open a local bank account and hand over their ATM cards and bank account information.

In the online romance scams, the syndicate members who claimed to be professional workers, targeted 20 victims, aged between 21 and 73, whom they met on social media. Using deception, they convinced the victims to remit money to the accounts that they had taken over.  

After the victims deposited the money, the scammers used the helpers’ ATM cards to immediately withdraw or transfer the illicit funds to other bank accounts.

Police said the victims in the email scam were two local companies and an employee of an overseas company. The total amount they lost exceeds $13 million.

During the operation, personnel seized a batch of exhibits, including a cash counter, more than 100 ATM cards and approximately $330,000 in cash. The officers also froze the bank accounts involved, which were still holding approximately $1.5 million.

Police sources estimate that 8 in 10 cases that they investigated in recent weeks that involved Filipinas pertained to their ATM cards and accounts being used for money laundering.

The case is still under investigation and further arrests cannot be ruled out, police said.

They warned that money laundering, which could include an act as simple as letting someone’s ATM card to be used by another person, is a serious crime.

Police in a webinar with the PCG warn FDHs not to fall into the laundering trap

“The public, including foreign domestic helpers, should not open bank accounts for others to use. They should not lend their bank account to others for illegal purposes,” the police said.

“According to Hong Kong laws, anyone who knows or has reason to believe that a certain property, in whole or in part and directly or indirectly, is obtained from a crime and deals with it commits money laundering,” the police said.

Police said a person convicted of money laundering is liable to a maximum penalty of $5 million fine and imprisonment for 14 years.

Any person who is convicted of conspiracy to defraud, such as knowingly lending one’s ATM card to people engaged in the illicit act, is also liable to a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Don't Miss