Two Britons detained in Philippines over job scam

Two British men have been detained in the Philippines and could face long jail sentences for allegedly running a scam offering Filipinos non-existent jobs abroad, legal officials said on Wednesday.

The two took 1.75 million pesos (40,000 dollars) in fees from 12 Filipinos in exchange for getting them work in Britain but failed to deliver, said Kenneth Dasal, legal officer of the Manila suburb where they are being charged.

“They were caught by a police investigator posing as a job-seeker in a ‘sting’ operation,” Dasal told AFP.

Simon John Paice and Nicholas John Vickers are in detention awaiting trial while a third British man is being sought for his alleged involvement in the case, said Dasal.

The two Britons have been charged with “illegal recruitment in large scale”, which has a maximum penalty of life in jail, said Aida Lumugdang, an officer of the court handling the case.

They were arrested early last month and charged in court on December 21, Lumugdang said. However it was not stated how old they are or when they entered the Philippines.

Illegal recruitment refers to cases where unauthorised agencies lure Filipinos, supposedly to help them get jobs abroad, only to cheat them or exploit them.

The issue is a sensitive one in this country, where about nine million people have gone overseas to find better jobs to support their families.

The British embassy in the Philippines said it was aware of the case and was providing the two with consular assistance but declined to give more details.

Many Filipinos aspire to work abroad where they can get salaries not available at home. Many of them pay huge amounts to agencies to help them find the right jobs overseas.

The money they send back home is a major source of foreign exchange and makes up more than 10 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, according to government data.