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Filipina DH admits stealing $538,500 from employer’s bank account

27 July 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao

Jennie Garaza stole the money from her employer over 14 months through ATM withdrawals 

 A Filipina domestic admitted today, Jul 27, that she stole a total of $538,500 from her male employer by making unauthorized withdrawals from his bank account over a 14-month period until Jan 21 this year.

June Jennie B. Garaza, 33, pleaded guilty to a charge of theft in Eastern Magistracy six months after the offense was discovered by her 55-year-old American employer, Stephen Peeples, a lawyer.


Magistrate Peony Wong scheduled the defendant’s sentencing on Aug 11.  

Garaza’s admission came after Peeples confirmed unauthorized withdrawals from his account between Nov 21, 2019 and Jan 21 this year totaled $650,500.

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The employer further cut $112,000 from the amount, representing the helper’s $5,000 monthly salary and $3,000 monthly household expenses for 14 months.

After reviewing his bank statements, the employer stated he could easily pinpoint his own withdrawals because he always withdrew amounts ending in $900 so he would have $100 banknotes.


Originally, he claimed to have lost $750,000 in unauthorized withdrawals to Garaza.

Among the evidence presented in court was a CCTV record tracing of all ATM withdrawals from the account from Dec 1, 2020 to Jan 21 this year, which showed the defendant taking a total of $129,500 within this period alone.


Earlier on-site video recordings of withdrawals were no longer available.

Peeples hired Garaza as his domestic helper in January 2017.  Two years later he gave her his Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp ATM card and password so she could withdraw her salary and household expenses from the account.

The employer entrusted his ATM card to Garaza for household expenses

The helper had to seek his permission and show receipts of her household expenditure each time she withdrew from the account, the prosecution said. Peeples seldom used the HSBC ATM card as he had his credit card to pay for his expenses.
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The prosecution said Peeples, who was identified earlier as a Frenchman, discovered the theft on Jan 21 when he logged into his e-banking account and saw an unauthorized $3,500 withdrawal.

The employer confronted Garaza and, on the same day, the helper admitted she had been making unauthorized withdrawals from his account. They talked about a possible solution the next day, during which the helper admitted her guilt on a voice recording.

The prosecution said Garaza told her employer she had been sending the money to the Philippines to pay for debt she incurred for the medical costs of her mother, who eventually died of cancer.

Shortly after she was charged with theft in late January, her husband Kevin Luga who also used to work for Peeples, accused the employer of making up trumped allegations against his wife in the TV and online show “Isumbong mo Kay Tulfo”.

Luga, who was dismissed by the employer shortly after Garaza’s arrest, claimed Peeples had been upset with the $17,850 that Luga’s wife had paid using the ATM card, for the hotel bill he and their young son incurred for quarantine after they arrived from Manila on Jan 18.

Luga insisted his wife had used all the money she took from Peeple’s account for her salary and household expenses.


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