Three Filipinos who were arrested in October last year and charged with using false instruments in attempts to open bank accounts in Hong Kong, were bound over at the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Friday until their next court appearance in February.

The three defendants, Enrique Vargas, Ryan S. Ilustrisimo and Maureen M. Gutierrez, have been in remand since their arrest in October last year, sunwebhk.com reported.

Court documents show the three arrived as tourists on October 9. The next day they were arrested when they tried to open individual savings accounts at a Bank of China branch in Admiralty on Hong Kong Island. At the time they presented copies of purported work contracts to the bank staff as proof of their eligibility to open accounts.

The court heard that they were employed by a Hong Kong man.

The bank staff told them to return with the original contracts, and when they did, police were waiting for them. When bank staff had tried to verify the employer’s name and address, they were found to be spurious.

A source at the Philippines consulate said the case appears to be a new scam operated by a money laundering syndicate with a Hong Kong connection.

One of the defendants’ relatives who attended the previous hearing said her cousin replied to an offer of a free trip to Hong Kong advertised on Facebook.

He and the two other defendants were reportedly selected and briefed by two Filipino men before their trip.

As the prosecution opposed their bail applications, magistrate Peter Law remanded them in custody until their next hearing on February 19.