Imelda Fronda Saluma
Immigration scammer gets six years
A 47-year old divorced mother of three was sentenced to six years in jail for defrauding victims more than $2.3 million.
Imelda “Mel” Fronda Saluma, who pleaded guilty to the charges, was also ordered to pay restitution of $1.5 million to her victims.
“I am unsure the time in jail will assist Ms. Saluma in wrestling with her demons or rehabilitate her”, wrote Justice Leslie Pringle in a decision on December 11, 2015.
Justice Pringle called it a “sad day for everyone,” admitting that the sentence will not bring back the money “she squandered or erase the pain and hardship felt by the victims.”
Saluma, who operated GoWEST Jobs International, reportedly defrauded her 600 victims more than $2.3 million.
From July 1,2012 up to January 7, 2015 she collected over $2.4 million in funds involving the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program with more than 900 victims around the world by issuing a fake Labor Market Opinion (LMO).
She also got involved in asking friends to cash cheques for her, in National Money Mart, knowing that she did not have the funds available to cover the check. The total amount money collected from both fraudulent schemes netted her $2,423,350.00. While she refunded some amount of money, she still owed victims an outstanding balance of $1,995,750.00.
Saluma grew up with family that had a gambling problem, particularly her sister and mother. She herself became addicted to gambling – a way of coping for her personal issues such as death of her parents and infidelity of her husband.
Saluma’s first offence in 2008 involved forgery with 18 victims and was sentenced to custody and a restitution of $61,820.00.
In 2010, Saluma pleaded guilty to 2 counts of fraud and received a conditional sentence of 6 months.
According to a report by Pinoy TV.tv, victims who gathered outside court after the sentencing, expressed disappointment that the court determined that Saluma has no assets and their hopes to recoup some amount can only be realized if Saluma is out of jail and started to work.
Victims were advised to have the restitution order filed in the Ontario Superior Court to have judgment registered for civil enforcement should any money or assets be discovered in the future.
Authorities said Saluma’s company charged foreign workers for documents, references and employment contracts which were fraudulent.
Because the papers they submitted were fraudulent, the applicants were denied entry by the Canadian government. They are now banned from reapplying for 2 years.
Agnes Aquino, who came to Canada through the caregiver program in 2001, claims she’s a victim of Saluma.
“Inapply ko na yung pamilya ko, pito sila lahat, nagbayad ako ng 1,500 per isang tao, per aplikante para makuha lang yung job offer. Naghintay ako ng a year bago niya ibinigay sa akin na may offer, may contract at LMO so nagbigay naman kami ng 2,000 each,” said Aquino.
Aquino and her family shelled out more $23,000–money that came from selling their house, borrowing money from other people and from their life savings.
“Devastated talaga ako, frustrated, and so sad and galit na galit ako,” she said.