Toronto business owner accused of scamming fellow Filipinos

TORONTO — Toronto Filipino Canadians rallied in front of this Filipino store on Pape Street against its business owner, Marissa Odi-Gonzales, for alleged immigration fraud and investment scams.

Protesters were demanding their money back, and warning others in the community.

“Ang modus nito, papakita yung mga business nya tapos mga picture ng bahay nya sa Pilipinas. Inimbita kami sa bahay nila na maganda yung bahay nya, tapos yung mga sasakyan nya kaya sabi ko siguro pwede naming mag-join din ng business…. yung mga kasama ko dito ngayon may iba-ibang scam ang ginagawa nya, uutang sa credit card tapos hindi nya babayaran,” said Juan Marcelino.

“I was only there for a few weeks at her clinic, and she would already tell me how she built her business. She said if I wanted a good life too, I needed to make an investment. She convinced us to give her $28,500,” said Maria, former secretary of Marissa Gonzales at Bio Health Source.

A former business partner claimed that Gonzales was involved in medical insurance fraud with her Bio Health Source clinic.

“Dinadala ko lahat ng pasyente ko sa kanya eh ang mga ginagawa niya pala, pinapalitan nya instead na pupunta yung mga cheke sa akin napupunta sa kanya,” said Delia Marcelino, owner of Sparkie Toronto Healthcare.

“I would bring all my patients to her. But what she was doing was to make sure the checks go to her and not to me.”

 This kababayan has known Gonzales for years and referred his relatives from abroad to MG Consulting Services when Gonzales’ immigration practice opened up early this year.

 “Pumunta ako sa opisina may nakita akong mga tauhan nya pero all of a sudden maybe after a few months they’re gone.”

“Lahat-lahat P200,000 kasi sabi nya may employer na daw at urgent daw kaya nagbigay ako agad. Sabi nya mag-antay lang daw ng mag-antay hanggang wala pa hanggang ngayon.”

“I lost Php 200,000 because she said she found me an employer and it was urgent so I gave it right away. She told me to wait but nothing’s happened yet.”

In light of these allegations against Gonzales, some advocates for migrant workers proposed policy changes and tighter laws to address immigration scams.

“It is illegal to pay for recruitment fee however when someone violates it they get a slap in the hand. What we want is for them to be criminally liable, and in order to do that they have to be licensed by the Ministry of Ontario,” said Jesson Reyes, Managing Director of Migrants Resource Centre Canada.

Allan Ralph Basa, TV Natin Canada Host, says: “The Government of Canada must have a new policy which will create a special enforcement agency that will really focus on addressing these scams. They should put satellite departments in all consular office of Canada all over the world.”

Claimants have started filing their case in small claims court and are meeting with government representatives.

Balitang America tried to get a statement from Gonzales’ lawyer, but no response was given.

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