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‘Bernie Madoff of the Filipino community’ cons people out of millions

Posted at 7:14 PM, Jul 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-12 19:14:58-04

When it comes to con-artists, many target their own communities. One woman ran a million dollar Ponzi scheme on her own people.

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,” says Greg Ghiozzi, US Postal Inspector

Canedo sold promissory notes offering a return of up to 50%. 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,” says 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,” says Ghiozzi.

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,” says 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. 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,” says Ghiozzi.

Canedo was charged with mail fraud and wire fraud. Canedo pleaded guilty and is still awaiting sentencing. Inspectors say she put the bulk of the money she took in overseas bank accounts.

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.