Pattaya, Thailand. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Three Filipino women were arrested in Pattaya, Thailand for allegedly fraudulently soliciting funds from tourists for a children’s charity that police say does not operate in Thailand.

On Wednesday, Belinda Austria Toledo, 55, Jessica Bayutas Ortega, 50 and Ruthie Espina Babila, 38 were caught fund-raising in front of a restaurant on Phettrakul in Bang Lamung district, Bangkok Post reported.

Police said one of the women drew the attention of tourists by playing the guitar while the other two talked to potential donors to ask for money for a children’s foundation. The Filipinas claimed to represent the Children’s Joy Foundation, an international non-profit organisation which police investigations determined has no presence in Thailand.

Seized from the FIlipinas were 10 books that had names of donors, a guitar, two boxes of printed leaflets seeking donations, 5,690 baht (US$180) cash and other items.

Colonel Apichai Krobphet, chief of Pattaya city police, said the Filipinas entered the country as tourists and had no documents to back up their claims of fund-raising on behalf of the foundation. The Filipinas later confessed that they had been doing this for almost a year in different areas across Thailand.

The three women have been charged with colluding in raising funds without permission, being foreign nationals working without permission and having no work permits.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the Philippine embassy in Bangkok has already reached out to the Pattaya police to arrange a visit with the women as soon as possible. Ambassador to Thailand Mary Jo B. Aragon said the embassy will extend necessary assistance to them.

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