Well, another bad news for the Filipino community in Singapore. These people do not represent the working Filipino professionals and our sisters in service industry who are legitimately working just to send money to their love ones back home.
ON THE surface, they seemed like big-spending tourists that Singapore retailers would welcome with open arms.
In their one-month stay, Filipinos Dante Baya Cervantes and Jannette Lorenzo Dayo splurged more than $50,000 on retail therapy.
The problem was they were not shopping with their own credit cards.
As part of an international syndicate, they had come to Singapore to steal credit cards which they then used to buy watches and jewellery for resale.
In August, Cervantes was jailed seven years while Dayo was jailed four years and four months for their crimes.
Cervantes' fraudulent purchases totalled more than $46,000 while Dayo bought more than $11,000 of goods from various shops.
They had stolen unattended handbags in the Orchard Road and Harbourfront areas, and made purchases with the credit cards in the bags.
The credit cards, which belonged to six people, were used to buy gold chains, rings, bracelets, necklaces and Rolex watches from shops like Taka Jewellery and Peng Kwee Watches and Jewellery.
The items were later sold by other members of the syndicate with the proceeds shared among them.
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To avoid arousing suspicion, Cervantes practised signing the cardholders' signatures before using the cards, while Dayo watched him.
Cervantes went on a shopping spree on 28 occasions while Dayo did so eight times.
Caught in the act
Police arrested them on 27 Aug, while they were seen acting suspiciously while walking from Paragon Shopping Centre to Park Hotel Orchard.
Cervantes had just stolen a Kate Spade handbag left unattended in the Starbucks Cafe in Paragon.
Other items that were stolen or procured dishonestly by the duo were recovered from their room in Tekka Boarding Hotel.
Court papers said Cervantes entered Singapore on several occasions between last June and August.
They had a Malaysian accomplice, Abdul Mohamed Ali, who is still at large.
The duo, who were unrepresented in court, asked for leniency after pleading guilty, claiming their circumstances had forced them into crime.
Cervantes said he had financial difficulties and had to support four young children while Dayo claimed she has leukaemia and was her family's sole
In his written judgment, District Judge Liew Thiam Leng said there were 'aggravating factors' as Cervantes and Dayo were members of a syndicate and had made purchases within a short span of time.
He wrote: 'The speed and anonymity of such transactions make detection difficult and substantial losses can be incurred by the victims.
'The banks are the victims because they had to pay the retailers for the fraudulent purchases. Substantial resources would be expended to combat such frauds.'
Since March 2007, Singapore's courts have given jail terms of two to three years to credit card cheats for each charge that is proceeded on.
Judge Liew added that Singapore's economy relies on the financial sector and if credit card fraud became prevalent, financial institutions would not want to invest here.
Little weight could be given to Cervantes' and Dayo's guilty pleas, as they were nabbed while reaping the benefits of their crimes.
Judge Liew wrote: 'If they had not been arrested by the police, they would have continued with more offences as they were apprehended while they were in the process of getting away with a stolen bag.'