Filipino Domestic Helper Selling Fake Goods Escapes Prison Term

A Filipino domestic helper who sold fake baseball caps in Hong Kong during her day off managed to avoid prison after she received a suspended sentence from a local court.

Milagros P, 50, pleaded guilty to the charges of selling fake goods and violating conditions of her stay in Hong Kong as a foreign domestic helper. Eastern Presiding Magistrate Peter Law on January 31 ordered a six-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

“What you did is you tried to earn extra money on your leisure time. I will sentence you on this basis,” Law told the Filipino woman. Having handed the suspended sentence means the helper can avoid the jail sentence upon maintaining a clean criminal record for the next 12 months.

The prosecution said that Milagros was caught selling the fake Nike and Under Armour caps beside the elevated walkway between the Central Market and the Hang Seng Bank headquarters in Central.

“A group of officers who were patrolling against those selling fake goods saw the defendant with a trolley and selling the caps,” the prosecutor said.

When one of the officers asked her about the price of the Nike caps, Milagros answered that they cost $20. The Customs officers declared their identity and arrested her.

They saw that she was also carrying a bag that contained fake Under Armour caps and confiscated it. Milagros later admitted that she bought the caps in Sham Shui Po for $15 each. It was her first time to sell goods in Central, the prosecution added.

Employers of Milagros expressed their support for the helper and wrote a letter to the judge asking for leniency. The employers had a glowing review of her performance as a domestic worker for the past three years. They testified that she is a reliable worker and managed to win their trust in taking care of their daughter.

Milagros first came to Hong Kong in 1994 and has a 29-year-old son who has a mental disability and is being taken cared of by her sister back in the Philippines.

Her lawyer said she is the breadwinner of her family and earns extra money by selling the counterfeit products.

“This is the first time she committed a crime. She had never been in trouble with the law,” her added.

According to Hong Kong laws, foreign domestic workers are not allowed to take up any other employment including part-time work, or to work at any places other than their employers’ addresses as specified in the singed contracts.

Other domestic workers who made the same mistake were not as lucky as Milagros, like many domestic workers in Hong Kong who spend their rest day trying to make extra cash. Some who were caught selling fake merchandise were sent to jail, while there are those who died performing part-time work colloquially known as “kuskus” (literal meaning “brush”).