LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) -- Some people call her the Bernie Madoff of the Filipino community in the U.S. for running a million-dollar Ponzi scheme targeting her fellow countrymen.
In this Rip-Off Alert, con artists often succeed in scamming communities.
Razel Canedo is accused of 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 U.S. Once she gave the pitch many of her potential victims would invest with her," said U.S. Postal Inspector Greg Ghiozzi.
Investigators say 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," Ghiozzi said.
Once investors realized they were not getting checks, Canedo went into hiding.
"They couldn't find her,” Ghiozzi said. “They would call her, wait outside her residence. She fell off the face of the Earth."
Inspectors then started tracking the money.
"We do know she was building a giant house in the Philippines,” Ghiozzi said. “Some money was going to her relatives. One thing we are sure of is it didn't go to bring nurses over to the U.S."
Inspectors eventually arrested Canedo but said the impact on investors was heartbreaking.
"It really affected a lot of people's lives,” Ghiozzi said. “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."
Canedo pleaded guilty to mail fraud and wire fraud and is awaiting sentencing.
Inspectors say she put the bulk of the money in overseas bank accounts.
Some advice: 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.