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Arrest foils escape bid of Filipina in laundering ring, court heard

06 August 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Police display some of the items seized from the alleged money launderers

A Filipina former domestic helper alleged to be a core member of a money laundering syndicate was arrested just hours before she was to fly to Manila after withdrawing $100,000 from ATM booths in Jordan, the Kowloon City court was told Friday.

Details of Charity Alonzo Marquez’s activity on the night before her arrest on Jul 26 were disclosed by the prosecution when the defendant in court where she was read four charges of money laundering.


The court was told Marquez was still under hospital arrest as she was undergoing treatment for an unspecified illness. No plea was taken.

The prosecution said Marquez, 45, was escorted by another Filipina as she took cash from several ATM booths in the Jordan area late on Jul 26 and put the money in a bag.

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Unknown to her, she was being tailed by police officers taking part in Operation “Morningray” that targeted romance scammers and money launderers.

When Marquez handed the bag shortly to two Nigerian men who were standing nearby, the police pounced on all four suspects, the prosecutor said.  The officers seized the bag, which contained $70,000 and other currencies including US$2,000.

Pindutin para sa detalye

The officers then went to a flat in Jordan where Marquez lived. In her room they found 21 withdrawal slips and 73 ATM cards owned by other people.

The prosecutor said the clothes worn by the suspect in CCTV images captured while she was making withdrawals were also seized by the police.

He said that facial images retrieved from bank CCTV footages taken between Feb 8 and Apr 21 this year showed Marquez making six cash withdrawals totaling $1.93 million from ATM booths in the Jordan area.


In the first of four money laundering charges, Marquez was accused of withdrawing some $330,000 from an HSBC account belonging to Jave dela Cruz between Feb 8 and Mar 24 this year, knowing these were proceeds of an indictable offense.

In the second count, the defendant was accused of withdrawing between Feb 8 and Mar 24 this year around $400,000 from a Hang Seng Bank account owned by Angela Corales.


During the same period, she also withdrew about $550,000 from an HSBC account also belonging to Corales, according to the third charge.

The fourth charge said Marquez withdrew $650,000 from the HSBC account of Rhoda B. Ramos between Feb 10 and Apr 21.   

The cards said to have been seized from the accused and her co-ringleaders

The prosecutor sought a 12-week adjournment for further investigation and to obtain CCTV footages from the banks of withdrawals made by the defendant until the day she was arrested.

He said the defendant was a domestic helper whose work contract was terminated at an unspecified date and had an air ticket for a flight out of Hong Kong scheduled for Jul 27, the reason for the prosecution’s objection to granting her bail.

The defense lawyer confirmed her client came to Hong Kong as a domestic helper in 2017. She was a university graduate and has 20-year-old daughter in the Philippines.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

Before her contract was terminated, she was earning $7,000 a month and was sending one-third of that amount to her family.

Magistrate Ada Yim adjourned the case until Nov 8 and ordered the defendant remanded in custody.  

Marquez is the first to be charged among 29 people who were arrested during the police swoop on Jul 26 and 27. She was said to be a core member of the romance scam syndicate led by a third Nigerian who was arrested the next day. 

Also held were 23 Filipina helpers and one Indonesian helper whose ATM cards were used in 20 romance scams and three telephone scams that deprived the victims of more than $27 million in the first half of this year.

The police said all the other arrested persons, including the three Nigerians, had been released on bail.

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