Filipina detained on suspicion of defrauding compatriots in Taiwan

08/05/2020 10:48 PM
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Filipina caregiver Nelsa (photo courtesy of Taichung prosecutors)
Filipina caregiver Nelsa (photo courtesy of Taichung prosecutors)

Taichung, Aug. 5 (CNA) Prosecutors on Wednesday obtained a court order to detain a migrant worker from the Philippines, who was accused of involvement in an investment scam targeting her compatriots in Taiwan.

The 32-year-old Filipina caregiver, identified only as Nelsa, allegedly set up a fraud ring in February 2019 to lure clients to deposit money into an account in Taiwan, which would allow them to obtain a higher exchange rate on their currency conversion from Taiwan dollars to Philippine pesos, according to the Taichung District Prosecutors' Office.

Using messaging apps, "agents" in the fraud ring in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Chiayi and other parts of Taiwan were advertising Nelsa's "exchange and remittance" offer among Filipino migrant workers, prosecutors said.

The scammers were telling migrant workers that they could get an exchange rate of 2.5 Philippine pesos on the Taiwan dollar one month after the deposit was made, and that the rate would rise to 6 pesos after 75 days, prosecutors said.

As the regular market rate on the Taiwan dollar is usually around 1.68 pesos, many Filipino workers seeking to send remittances home were lured into making the deposits, but later realized that they could not send the remittances or get back their money, prosecutors said.

When the workers contacted Nelsa's "agents" to complain, no action was taken, prosecutors added.

The scam was reported to the Taichung District Prosecutors' Office earlier this year by Philippine envoys stationed in Taipei, who had been investigating the matter based on complaints received from the victims, prosecutors said.

In the period May to July, police and investigators carried out several raids on the homes of Nelsa's "agents," prosecutors said.

On Tuesday, Nelsa's home was searched and she was arrested on suspicion of fraud, prosecutors said, adding that evidence had been obtained during the raid on her home.

The Taichung District Court on Wednesday granted prosecutors' request to keep Nelsa in detention, as she was seen likely to destroy evidence and flee the country if she was released on bail, prosecutors said.

According to prosecutors, 200-plus people had fallen victim to Nelsa's investment scam, which had yielded an estimated NT$80 million (US$2.7 million) in fraudulent gains.

(By Su Mu-chun and Elizabeth Hsu)

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