Atty. Rami Hourani
- OFWs can have legal problems while abroad.
- A new kind of fraud is being done on OFWs.
- These fraudsters advertise being able to solve your problems for you.
One of the most admirable traits about Filipinos is our demeanor towards work. This is something that people have taken notice of from all corners of the world. Filipinos take pride in providing for their families, even if that comes at a great personal cost. This cost is paid in space and time away from their families by those who decide to take the route of being an OFWs in order to provide for their families.
Unfortunately though, OFWs are often asked to fill the dual role of breadwinner and protector of the family. This means that they must, from halfway around the world, make their families feel safe. Now this can be as easy as instructing a relative to make kasaba the neighbor who is getting a little to comfortable around their children or sending money to fix up the house.
There is a class of problem though that everyone fears and nobody expects: Legal Trouble. This seems like such a vague term but let me break it down into a few examples:
- Your youngest got arrested while in an internet cafe that got raided by PDEA.
- Your husband has left you for a paramour and is spending the money you send on her.
- Your family is getting very threateningly worded letters from a lawyer.
- Your family is getting very threatening communications from the government.
- Your daughter is complaining that someone is following her home from school.
Now each of those scenarios merits its own discussion as to what to do. This article is about what not to do. Now any of the situations that I just outlined would cause terrible anxiety in an OFW who is abroad. A new and shameless kind of fraudster has arisen to take advantage of this situation though. I think instead of trying to explain it to you, its better that I show you what these frauds look like.
These are pictures of posts that circulate on Facebook. You will see that these kinds of posts purport to solve some of those scenarios that I mentioned. I sympathize with those who may fall prey to these kinds of scams. I know that it must be difficult in that time of need. They are far away from home and some emergency at home needs immediate attention. They do a quick google, they may even have seen friends post about these kinds of services. They send a quick that and will send money. This is where the most insidious part of the fraud occurs. They will send you fake legal documents. These things will have official sounding captions to them like “Decision” or “Decree of Annulment“.
It goes without saying though that these documents are less than worthless. The amount of money that is lost though is worth something. I urge anyone considering availing of these kinds of services to please reach out to a lawyer. Lawyers are relatively tech savvy nowadays and are willing to set up consultations via video conference. If you made it this far into the article and are considering deciding whether or not to get a lawyer I list down some decision points for whether or not to get a lawyer in my article here.
Thank you for making it to the end of my article. I sincerely hope you never need any of my advice.
Atty. Hourani practices law in Cebu City, Philippines. If you would like to set an appointment with him, you may reach him here.