MANILA, Philippines - A woman who goes by different names is being hunted by the police for tricking more than 700 Filipino workers to part with their money for non-existent jobs in the United Kingdom.
The Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment (Tfair) on Saturday said the suspect got at least P35,000 from each of her victims, or a total of almost P2.5 million, in an elaborate scam that involved giving the applicants language training.
In an interview aired over Vice President Noli De Castro’s radio program Para sa Iyo, Bayan, Tfair operations chief Senior Superintendent Bernie Yang said the recruiter introduced herself to applicants as Valerie Valero, but her real name turned out to be Bridget Pedrosa Logarta.
Yang said the suspect also goes by the aliases Bridget Lugarta, Bridget Ortiz, Maria Cristy Hope, and Gina Cruz, which is actually of one of her victims.
She reportedly hails from Cebu and is married to a Dexter Insoy.
During the program, De Castro appealed to the public to call the task force if they know the whereabouts of the suspect.
He said the task force can be reached at (02)414-2199.
Complainants said they were referred to Valero by an Alba Lumeng from Bacoor, Cavite. Lumeng reportedly recruited them by promising a P300,000 monthly pay with free board and lodging for different jobs in London.
The victims said that they had to pay Lumeng P35,000 if they wanted to “train" for the jobs being offered.
“Hindi ka pwede mag-training ng wala kang P35,000 [You can’t train if you don’t have P35,000]," duped worker Almario Lopez said during the radio program.
The workers then underwent a language course under Valero.
But just as they were going to pay the P300,000 cash advance for the job orders, the recruiter reportedly disappeared, leaving her accomplices to fend for themselves.
The five accomplices of Valero, including Lumeng, are already in the custody of the Tfair.
Death due to disappointment
Meanwhile, one of Valero’s victims reportedly died while arguing with Lumeng over the scam.
Senior Superintendent Yang said Reuben Cablin of Barangay Habay, Perpetual Help, Bacoor, Cavite died of a heart attack while protesting to Lumeng at the firm’s office in Bahay Toro, Project 8, Quezon City.
“Calm siya nung una, pero bigla siyang nagbreakdown [He was calm at first but he suddenly broke down]," said fellow worker Almario.
Cablin was a former overseas Filipino worker who was able to put up a water refilling station in Cavite. He was married with one child.
Other victims said he helped them raise money for paying the training fee by selling lands.
The task force, which is chaired by Vice President De Castro, is also hunting at least 276 suspects who have standing arrest warrants for large-scale illegal recruitment and estafa (fraud).
The task force said 68 of the suspects have double digit number of arrest warrants, with a woman named Harleta Velasco topping the list with 134 arrest warrants.
Joining Velasco on top of the list were Rosemarie Liwanag (82), Maricar Inovero (79), Corazon Ventura (48), Amelia Gabriel (29), Beverly Tuazon (27), Maria Harleta Velasco (27) – suspected to be the same recruiter with the most number of arrests— Aminola Camarudin (24), and Marissa Biyalat - GMANews.TV