Woman accused of targeting Filipinos in Ponzi scheme

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Some call her the Bernie Madoff of the Filipino community in the U.S. for running a million dollar Ponzi scheme targeting her fellow countrymen. FOX6's Contact 6 has found, con-artists often succeed in scamming communities they're a part of.

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 U.S. Once she gave the pitch, many of her potential victims would invest with her," U.S. Postal Inspector Greg Ghiozzi said.

Canedo sold promissory notes offering a return of up to 50%. Investors say 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. They would call her, wait outside her residence. She fell off the face of the earth," Ghiozzi said.

So, 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.," Ghiozzi said.

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," Ghiozzi said.

Canedo was charged with mail fraud and wire fraud. Canedo pleaded guilty and is still awaiting sentencing.

FOX6's Contact 6 says when it comes to investing your money, always to your research.