Filipina PEYA Travel Co-Owner Arrested

The Filipino co-owner of the travel agency involved in a massive airline booking mess has been arrested and interrogated by Hong Kong authorities on suspicion of fraud.

Rhea Donna Boyce, 38, a Filipina married to an Australian national and listed as co-owner of PEYA Travel, was seen being led by police to the shuttered office on the third floor of World Wide Plaza on Christmas Day. The police, which searched for evidence in the office, later posted a report about the arrest of a woman whom they did not identify.

The report said the “foreign woman” was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud foreign workers, The SUN reported.

“A unit of the Central Police District Crime Squad who took over the investigation of cases arrested at about 12 noon today (Dec 25) in Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai, a 38-year foreign female person in charge of the travel company on suspicion of conspiring to commit fraud,” the report said.

Since mid-December, the police had been receiving complaints from several women whose air tickets bought at PETA Travel were not honored by airlines.

Initial estimates showed there were 645 people who filed complaint against the agency with value of air tickets pegged at around HK$2 million.

A man representing a local company through which PEYA Travel sourced its tickets, said it has not been paid for about HK$3 million worth of tickets by the travel agency since May.

The airline ticket fiasco was uncovered on December 17 when groups of Filipino workers bound for the Philippines were told at check-in counters at Hong Kong International Airport that their agency had not paid for their tickets, and thus were denied to board their flights.

The first PEYA passengers who snapped up the free air tickets offered by the Philippine government and Cebu Pacific Air left on Dec. 25, and were sent off by Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre and his staff.

Cebu Pacific offered 50 free tickets to the affected OFWs on a first-come, first-served basis, while about the same number were paid for by the Philippine government and booked through Philippine Airlines.

Earlier, Philippine Airlines, following Cathay Pacific Airways’ example, sent bigger aircraft to Hong Kong for their last flights on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23 to allow more affected passengers to fly to Manila.