Razel Canedo targeted Filipino investors in a scam she pitched as helping fellow Filipinos.
"Typically, she would give a victim a "pitch" about bringing Filipino nurses to the US. Once she gave the pitch many of her potential victims would invest with her," said US Postal Inspector Greg Ghiozzi.
Canedo sold promissory notes offering a return of up to 50 percent. Investors said they wanted to help fellow Filipinos come to America and create better lives for themselves.
"They tended to trust her because she was another Filipino," said Ghiozzi.
Once investors realized they were not getting checks, Canedo went into hiding.
"They couldn't find her. They would call her, wait outside her residence. She fell off the face of the earth," Ghiozzi.
So, Inspectors started tracking the money.
"We do know she was building a giant house in the Philippines. Some money was going to her relatives. One thing we are sure of is it didn't go to bring nurses over to the US," said Ghiozzi.
Inspectors eventually arrested Canedo, but said the impact on investors was heartbreaking.
"It really affected a lot of people's lives. They gave her their life savings," said Ghiozzi. "They were very angry that someone in their community would have violated their trust. So aside from the financial impact it also had a strong emotional impact."
Inspectors say Canedo put the bulk of the money she took in overseas bank accounts. She was charged with mail fraud and wire fraud. She pleaded guilty but is still awaiting sentencing.
Some advice from Inspectors:
- Do not trust someone just because he or she is a part of your community.
- When it comes to investing your money, always do your due diligence no matter who you're dealing with.