Manny Pacquiao vs. Mel Saluma

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015. Filed under: Legal Matters Services

Henry MoyalThis is not a story about boxing. This is not a sports article nor an analysis of who should have won the “fight of the century”. It is however, a story about good vs. evil – and I don’t mean Floyd Mayweather. While most of humanity (at least in North America and the Philippines) were glued to their television sets to see the dual between Manny Pacquiao and Money Floyd, in this part of the world, at the same time a fellow Filipina was arrested in a sophisticated immigration fraud scam that targeted mostly Filipinos. Her only motivation was greed. In contrast, Pacquiao was quoted as wanting to give some of his proceeds to charity.

On one hand, there is the sense that Pacquiao was fighting for his nation and the country of the Philippines. After all, he is a congressman, and to serve and respect his countrymen must be at the forefront of his mind. Win or lose, Pacquiao will always be regarded as a hero and champion of the Philippines. A boxing title does not give someone credibility – a person’s actions do. It is for that reason that most of the world was hoping that the “good guy” would win last week in Las Vegas. It is for that reason that most of the crowd at the MGM were shouting “Manny, Manny” the entire night. For no one likes a cheater. No one likes those who prey on the innocent and who take advantage of others.

Almost at the same time that Pacquiao was taking punches to his head, Imelda “Mel” Fronda Saluma, 46, was arrested in Toronto, for numerous charges of fraud that police say netted more than $2.3 million dollars. One victim alone has gone on record claiming she gave Saluma $24,500. Fuelled by greed, police allege that Saluma, the mother of four, scammed over 600 people by forging documents and making fake job offers so people would apply for visas to Canada. To no surprise, the applicants never received their visas and were banned from re-applying for two years. According to Detective Mendoza, “he didn’t know of anyone who was successfully issued a visa using the documents”.

Applicants from all over the world paid Saluma to secure them a job in Canada through her company called GoWest International. The price tag was not cheap. Dreams often aren’t. In this case, it was at least $5000 per applicant. They came from all over the world including Taiwan, Israel, UAE,UK, Japan and the Philippines. The police allege there may be others and frankly in this writer’s opinion, 600 victims is far too low if GoWest was promising the impossible. In this case, they were. It is alleged that Saluma provided applicants with offers of employment from Mcdonald’s, Holiday Inn, Pizza Hut and Tim Hortons. As well, Saluma provided the foreign workers with documents, reference letters and employment contracts – all were fake according to police. Police believe there may be other victims.

In a report from the Toronto Star, it is alleged that Saluma was the mastermind behind a company called GoWest International who promised applicants jobs in exchange for thousands of dollars in fees. Her sole staffer was Rose Fabe Walters (a.k.a. Rosemarie Walters). It is alleged that Saluma would draft fake employment offers from large companies like McDonalds offering people a job. However, in reality no job existed. Applicants, who paid the hefty price were unaware and when they applied at the Canadian Embassy for their respective work permits, they were denied. Most were denied also on the added ground of misrepresentation which adds an added penalty of a two year ban.

Her actions not only damage the reputation of her country but also the industry of immigration law. By acting so recklessly and fraudulently, Saluma has managed to alienate those who run legitimate immigration businesses and has no doubt tarnished the industry. There is no evidence that Saluma is a lawyer. She is not even a mere immigration consultant. It is therefore even more troublesome to comprehend how she was running GoWest for years without the proper credentials. Further, it is unknown how she was submitting the fake applications to the Canadian Embassy or to Service Canada when she was unauthorized to do so.

What we do know however is that crime does not pay. Pacquiao lived on the street and fought to survive. While he inspires Filipinos, Saluma disgraces them.

Mel Saluma, shame on you. In the words of Fyodor Dostoevsky, “if one has a conscience one will suffer for his mistake. That will be punishment – as well as the prison.”

The only consolation is that Saluma has recently been denied bail. She will no longer Go West, but Go(to)Jail.

Attorney Henry Moyal is a certified and licensed immigration lawyer in Toronto, Ontario. The above article is general advice only and is not intended to act as a legal document. Send questions to Attorney Moyal by email  or call toll free 1-888-847-2078.

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