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Couple Quintin Robles and Rowena Villanueva (shown here during a 2010 vacation in Cuba).


TORONTO — Abby Pascual was recovering from a car accident that left her with severe neck, back and leg injuries.

Her mother had just died of cancer.

So when Rowena Villanueva, a fellow Filipina involved with a physiotherapy clinic, suggested she invest $90,000 from her accident claim and her mother’s life insurance in what she said was a brand new clinic, Pascual followed her advice.

It was the last she would see of the money.

Soon after, it would be the last she would see of Villanueva.

The upstart Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Group, where Villanueva and her husband Quintin “Keith” Robles were partners was offering incredible interest rates of 7 to 10 percent — per month.

This at a time when banks were offering a paltry 2 to 3 percent a year.

There was just one problem.

The clinic only existed on paper.

“She got me at a time when I was very vulnerable,” Pascual, 28, said in a recent interview with The Star of Toronto, where a dozen angry investors met to plan their next move.

“I don’t know how she can live with herself knowing the devastation she has caused to so many of us.”

Another investor, Robert Candelaria, said he was “hooked” into investing $10,000 by a promise that interest payments alone would be sufficient to help his family back in the Philippines.

The scheme began in 2006 and continued until the couple dropped out of sight two years ago, leaving a trail of bounced cheques, promissory notes, lawsuits and debt totaling at least $750,000.

The Star spoke to Villanueva’s husband, Quintin Robles, who is listed as a partner in the phantom rehab clinic.

Robles now works on an airplane assembly line in Willowdale.

Robles denied any knowledge of his wife’s business dealings.

He called his wife on behalf of The Star, but she would not talk to a reporter.

“On the life of my children, I don’t know what is going on,” Robles said, adding his wife used his name on official documents and his bank account without his knowledge.

“I know she owes money to some people, but that’s it. Honest to God.”

The Star interviewed about a dozen victims, some of whom said they were directed by Villanueva to deposit funds into Robles’ personal bank account.

Dividend cheques issued from the account bounced.

Most of the victims are former Filipino caregivers, personal support workers and their families.

Many had been involved in car accidents and were referred to Villanueva (who at one time worked as a receptionist at a doctor’s office, then was somehow involved in a rehab clinic) for help in processing insurance claims, or to set up physiotherapy appointments.

Pascual and others say they are now in desperate financial straits.

“I had to remortgage my home to cover the loans,” Pascual said.

“It’s taken me a while to get over this.”

Robles told The Star his wife was using his bank account to conduct her business and he has no idea where any of the money went.


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The complainants who accuse Quintin Robles and Rowena Villanueva of bilking them out of thousands of their hard-earned money.

 

A spokesperson for the physiotherapy clinic where Villanueva claimed to be part owner — Physical Therapy One — said she was not a part owner, but would not discuss what she did at the Scarborough clinic at Brimley Rd. and Highway 401.

The gregarious, smooth talking, 46-year-old mother of three told victims she could afford to offer sky high dividends because the physiotherapy business was booming in Canada.

She drove clients to their banks to apply for loans or lines of credit, imploring them to max their credit cards and turn over the funds to her for investment.

All received signed contracts and promissory notes from Villanueva attesting to the safety of their investments and interest payment schedules.

Macela Bautista, a 71-year-old widow said Villanueva persuaded her to turn over her life savings of $70,000.

When she demanded repayment, Villanueva issued her cheques on her daughter’s account in Waterloo, where she is a university student.

The cheques bounced.

As word that funds were not being repaid begin to spread, Villanueva’s clients converged on the couple’s Scarborough condominium demanding their money back.

One woman, Cecille Menor, claims Villanueva slammed her door shut, injuring her hand.

Manor invested $25,000, and is still owed $14,000.

She later chased the couple’s car through the parking lot in a failed attempt to get a license plate as they sped into the night.

In one case Villanueva told an investor, a registered chiropractor who had already loaned her $100,000, that her best friend’s son was dying and needed money.

The plea worked as Villanueva was able to squeeze another $20,000 loan.

Victims who complained to police have been told it is a civil matter.

Two investors have obtained default judgments (the couple did not show up in court to defend the action) against the pair.

Jong-Han Oh, the chiropractor, obtained judgment for $306,000 against Villanueva in October 2009, and $15,000 against Robles for a cheque he wrote to cover his wife’s non payment of promised interest.

The cheque did not clear.

Comments  

 
0 #1 L.P. Pelayo 2011-10-29 13:09
Interesting article.
Quote
 

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