The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) shut down the Manila office of Dubai-based firm Legal Connect Travel Consultancy for offering fake jobs in Italy and Malta to overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and prospective overseas job seekers.
DMW Officer-in-Charge Hans Leo J. Cacdac led the closure of Legal Connect’s offices at Unit 705, DHC Real Estate Lessor Building, No. 1115 EDSA, Barangay Veterans in Quezon City, on Tuesday morning, January 23, 2024.
“Walang legal na ginagawa ang Legal Connect Travel Consultancy na kilala rin bilang Legal Connect Travel Services. Sa katotohan ay illigal lahat ang aktibidad nila—illegal recruitment, illegal collection ng fees, lahat illegal,” declared Cacdac.
The DMW, through its Migrant Workers Protection Bureau (MWPB), acted on three complaints from applicants whose applications were either stalled or ignored by Legal Connect after the company collected exorbitant placement fees from them. Two of the complaints were from Dubai-based OFWs, while the third complaint was lodged by an applicant in Manila.
Legal Connect, which was found to be operating without a valid DMW license, lures unsuspecting applicants with promises of agricultural jobs as fruit and vegetable pickers, dairy farm workers as well as caregivers in Italy and hotel crew service jobs in Malta.
Legal Connect offered monthly salaries ranging from P60,000 to P100,000 but imposed “processing” fees ranging from P250,000 to P380,000. They would collect an initial “placement” fee from P80,000 to P100,000, with the balance to be paid in installments. Processing times were deceptively long, with applicants waiting for 6 to 8 months for jobs that never materialized.
Officers and personnel of Legal Connect are now facing serious charges of illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate, which is punishable by life imprisonment and fines ranging from P2,000,000 to P5,000,000. In addition, the company’s officers and personnel shall be blacklisted from participating in the government’s overseas recruitment program.
Cacdac also issued instructions to the DMW’s Migrant Workers Office in Dubai (MWO-Dubai) to work with law enforcement officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to further investigate Legal Connect’s illegal activities there.
The DMW urges other applicants who fell victim to Legal Connect’s schemes to report their cases to the MWPB through their Facebook page or email address at https://www.facebook.com/dmwairtip and email@example.com.
Meanwhile, victims based in the UAE may contact the Assistance to Nationals Hotline of the Philippine Embassy at +971563535558 to report their cases against the company.
This is the second illegal recruitment agency padlocked by the DMW this year. The department earlier shuttered the offices of GIS German Document Facilitation Services (GIS German) in Malate, Manila on January 5, 2024, also for illegal recruitment activities.
Image credits: Nonoy Lacza