Rowena Villanueva is tracked down by the Toronto Star in a townhouse in North Yoerk, Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Dale Brazao/Toronto Star)

TORONTO — A Filipino woman who investors claim bilked them of more than a million dollars in a phony chiropractic clinic scheme has been found by a Canadian newspaper living in a weathered North York townhouse complex.

Rowena Villanueva, 46, told the Toronto Star she is not yet ready to answer to her investors, some of whom have been searching for her for the past two years, and believed she had fled to the Philippines with their money.

“I will, soon, don’t worry," Villanueva said as to when she might be ready to tell her side of the story.

“Cause you know I need to get my rights first, so I have my documentation as well. Thank you.”

Wondering where she had gone, and frustrated by the police’s refusal to investigate, investors recently made posters with Villanueva’s and her husband’s, Quintin Robles photos on them, and distributed them to Filipino stores in Toronto.

The Star caught up with Villanueva on Nov. 4 in a townhouse complex at York Mills Rd. and The Don Valley Parkway.

Villanueva answered the door in white cotton pajamas adorned with pink hearts and wearing red slippers.

However, the Star said she remained tightlipped about the scheme which began in 2006 and continued until 2010 when the couple dropped out of sight leaving behind a trail of bounced cheques, promissory notes, lawsuits and debt totaling at least a million dollars.

Investors claim Villanueva used false promises of wealth to lure them into the upstart Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Group by promising interest rates of seven to 10 per cent a month.

The clinic existed only on paper.

The investors are mostly Filipino caregivers and personal support workers.

A Star investigation found that Villanueva also said she was part owner in a chain of clinics called Physical Therapy One, and partnered with a doctor named Timothy Van.

No doctor by that name is registered with either the College of Physicians and Surgeons or the College of Chiropractors in Ontario.

Salma Sheikh, lawyer for Physical Therapy One clincs says neither Villanueva nor Robles were ever part owners of any of the clinics and the company “will be seeking legal recourse due to the misrepresentations of Ms. Villanueva.”

For their money the investors received signed contracts from Villanueva, or promissory notes and explicit schedules for dividend payments.

Some received a few interest payments in the beginning, but others received nary a penny.

Among the victims is widow Marcela Bautista who says she turned over to Villanueva her life savings of $70,000 and 28-year-old Abby Pascual who put in $90,000 from her mother’s life policy and benefits from a serious car accident which lef her with serious back, leg and neck injuries.

Pascual, a network specialist with a telecomunications company, said she has not received a penny of interest or was able to recoup any of the the $90,000.

When word of the scheme began to spread in 2009, Villanueva and Robles moved from their home on Mondeo Drive and into an apartment on Birchmount Avenue, near Ellesmere.

When investors found that location, they moved again without telling any of the investors or leaving behind a forwarding address.

They also changed all their phone numbers.

Two investors who pursued the couple in court received judgment by default because they did not show up to defend the actions.

In an earlier interview with the Star, Quintin Robles, whose name is on the Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Group documents as a founding partner, said he was unaware of any of his wife’s business dealings.


Victims Elenita Bautista (left) and her mother Marcela Bautista.

Villanueva used his bank account and put his name on government documents without his knowledge or consent, Robles said.

“On the life of my children, I don’t know what’s going on,” Robles said.

Several investors claim they deposited money directly into Robles’ personal account and dividend cheques issued from his account bounced.

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

Investors also said Villanueva used her children, a high school student and the other a university student, to aid in her scheme.

The widow Bautista said Villanueva gave cheques issued on her daughter’s bank account in Waterloo that bounced.

“I am a victim in this too,” Villanueva’s daughter said in a telephone interview.

“I want my name cleared.”

After the Star published a story on Villanueva, investors again contacted police.

Investor Abby Pascual said an officer with the Financial Crimes Unit at the Toronto Police Service has agreed to have a look at the investors documents Monday and see if there is a basis to to investigate.

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