LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - 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. Razel Cando 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," says U.S. Postal Inspector Greg Ghiozzi.
Candeo sold promissory notes offering a certain 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.
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 U.S.," 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.
Candeo was charged with mail fraud and wire fraud. Canedo plead guilty and is still awaiting sentencing. Inspectors say she put the bulk of the money she took in overseas bank accounts.
Experts say you shouldn't trust someone just because he or she is part of your community. When it comes to investing your money, always do your due diligence no matter who you are dealing with.