3 Filipino call center employees jailed for Hong Kong free tour scam

Hong Kong free tour scam got 3 Filipinos sentenced to jail.

In an article by hongkongnews.com, it was reported that “ THREE call center employees from the Philippines were sentenced to five months in prison this morning (February 18) after their “free Hong Kong tour” turned out to be a scam to open bank accounts using forged documents. “

The victims of the scam were identified as – Enrique Vargas, 30, a customer service representative; Ryan S. Illustrisimo, 30, an administrative assistant; and Maureen M. Gutierrez, 23, an assistant supervisor.

These Filipinos faced two counts of “using a false instrument”  . 

According to the news report, the three used fake documents when they opened accounts in
Standard Chartered Bank branch in Central on October 9 and at Bank of China branch in Admiralty last October 10, 2018.

They presented themselves as employees of
Wharf Holdings, one of Hong Kong’s biggest conglomerate and gave fake documents that had addresses both in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

The accounts were successfully opened, however the bank officials became skeptical. The three were arrested upon their return to the Bank of China last October 12.

The lawyer who defended the three convicted Filipinos said that the victims were offered Hong Kong free tour in exchange of opening a bank account.

” (Vargas) is the breadwinner of his family…He came to Hong Kong because…on social media, he found out that somebody was offering free tickets and free accommodation and so he came to HK for free, on the condition that he open a free account…
Out of greediness, he accepted the offer. He did not know the offense was so serious. He is very remorseful ”  
the lawyer said.

The authorities suspected that the bank accounts will be used for money laundering.

“They don’t know anything else. They just came here for the free trip. They did not know each other before coming here. They came to Hong Kong for the free tickets and free trip,”  she added

The case was handled by Eastern Magistrates’ Courts in Sai Wan Ho and the verdict was given by Magistrate Lam Tsz-kan.

As per Hong Kong law, the violation of “using a false instrument” has a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment.

The three were supposed to be jailed for six months for each charge. However since they pleaded guilty, the judge lowered their sentence to a total of five months.

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