Helena Skeggs aka Helena Pedroche, has been getting Filipinos in London and the south of England to lend her money temporarily. However, this is on a vast scale from many people, and for vast sums.
This is not all, what has also been alleged is that she has been operating as an investment adviser illegally in the UK.
Claiming variously to be the illegitimate daughter or the adopted daughter of former President Marcos, and using luxury hotels in London as her working backdrop, she has been busy extracting money from her kababayans.
Lending money or investing with her is not a good thing to do, as many of her victims have found out to their cost. Heimdall reports.
Married to Englishman Richard Skeggs, this husband and wife team live in some style in a large house on the outskirts of London, this is worth between £1.5-M to £2.5-M, but is believed to be rented. Outside there is a large expensive Mercedes 4 x 4, as well as a rather mundane saloon car (the maid's perhaps?). The sums of money they have scalped range from £1,000 to £60,000.
As well as string of Filipino's who have been cheated, it also transpires that an adviser to Skeggs is one Philip Englefield of a company Grace Associates in Knightsbridge, London.
Helena Skeggs' urbane style works well, she initially meets her victims at social gatherings, then invites them to expensive meals, quite often in one of two luxury London hotels. This coupled with her using limousines (presumably rented for the occasion), she imbues her victims with a sense of confidence, and the aura that she is quite wealthy. Now the spider has entranced her victims into her web, she pounces.
Either it is an explanation of her prowess in investing in the stock market, or is the sad news that her aunt who has just arrived in the country and needs urgent medical treatment for cancer. The money is just to tide her over until her inheritance arrives.
She also makes liberal use of a hand drawing of what appears to be a young Ferdinand Marcos, with an even younger Helena at his side. Not a photo, a drawing. This is used as proof that she is either the illegitimate or adopted daughter of the late dictator. Sometimes, the story is of her mother among other things in Spain. No matter what, the relatives are rich, and Helena just needs a little more time to gain her inheritance. And she will pay interest, either on the hard luck "temporary" loan, or her investment wizardry.
Some of her victims have even been persuaded to take loans out themselves, or max out their credit cards to fund this cheat from Urdaneta in Pangasinan and her lavish lifestyle. Well somebody has to pay for the Mercedes 4 x 4 in the driveway.
Now it looks as if the gravy train funded by "investments" and loans may be coming to a close. Several of her victims have been taking legal action in the County Courts, and further action is expected. Complaints have also been made to the Philippine Embassy in London.
Not that the Skegg's family are taking these actions by the victims lying down; they have instructed solicitors to start threatening journalists who question their honesty. This firm of solicitors happen to different from their esteemed "adviser" in Knightsbridge, the ubiquitous Philip Englefield.
Moira O'Hara of Paddington based lawyers WGS made no comment when asked if she was aware of Philip Englefield's connection except to state that she was the Skeggs' legal adviser. When pressed in a telephone conversation about the allegations against her clients, Ms O'Hara said that she had to take instructions. She also invited Balita Pinoy to submit any questions in an e-mail. This we did. The questions, and the answers that were made, are at the end.
In a phone conversation with Philip Englefield last week he agreed he acted for Helena Skeggs but abruptly ended the conversation. Later, in another attempt to get more information from his company, Grace Associates, on whether he was the same person who was struck off as a solicitor in the early nineties and subsequently went to jail for stealing clients money to the tune of £4.5-M, a receptionist claimed to have no knowledge.
She then asked if we would like to speak to him, but then came back on line saying there was no comment from Mr Englefield as he was in a meeting, and referred us to his solicitors. When asked who they were, after a pause we were informed it was WGS of Paddington, the same lawyers who act for the Skeggs.
We contacted WGS again, with one solicitor saying she personally did not represent him, with their reception staff requesting any communication by email. We are waiting a response to that emailed inquiry.
Grace Associates of 65 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7RA have listings as legal advisers, but strangely, they also have a listing in the Information Britain website as a solicitor (http://www.information-britain.co.uk/county16/townguideKnightsbridge/).
There is no mention of such a firm or named solicitor when checking with the Law Society who govern solicitors in England and Wales.
The husband and the "Marcos daughter" wife
She collected the money; when her victims became persistent wanting their money back, checks were issued by husband Richard.
These checks were on personal, business and company accounts. The company "Quadro", which has now been dissolved, was supposedly an investment vehicle owned by the husband's mother which was used by brokers to invest in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the world's largest futures market.
The checks were referred to drawer.
The house in Chigwell's millionaires row
The Skeggs' house at 25 Manor Road, Chigwell, Essex; the house is valued at between £1.5 to £2.5-M by local estate agents but is thought to be rented. Land registry search show a different name as owner. If it is rented, the rent would be between £400 to £700 per week. An expensive Mercedes 4 x 4 in the drive shows a lifestyle far removed from that of Helena's lenders or investors.
The "MARCOS CONNECTION"
Helena Skeggs uses this drawing as proof of her connection with former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Claiming to some to be the illegitimate daughter, and others to be the adopted daughter of the Marcos family, this drawing is used to give credibility, there seem to be no photos. Supposedly showing her as a girl with former President Marcos, investigations have revealed that Marcos and wife Imelda did indeed adopt a girl, however this adopted daughter is alive and well and in business in Manila and looks nothing like Helena Skeggs.
Checks, paid to persistent complainants - from a variety of banks accounts, all signed by husband Richard. The three below are a sample; oh, by the way, they bounced.
Promising to pay back the money when pressed, cheques have been issued by her English husband Richard, on either one of his many personal bank accounts, or that of their now dissolved company Quadro, all of which bounced. This is an offense under British law.
Some of the court cases so far
An "Investment Contract"
Signed by Helena Skeggs, this handwritten acknowledgement of money invested through her by two Filipinas was made last year.
Inquiries with the UK's Financial Services Authority show that neither Helena nor Richard Skeggs are registered as investment advisers as required by law. The now defunct company Quadro is not on the register either.
The Questions and the Answers
Heimdall attempted to put questions to Helena Skeggs over these matters but she is seemingly reluctant to discuss them.
A landline phone number provided to lawyers of complainants does not answer as it is barred from incoming calls. Several mobile phone numbers given out as being Helena Skegg's either do not answer or go to voicemail.
We then contacted Skeggs' lawyer to request an interview to put these questions to her who asked for the questions to be put in writing for her clients to answer them. The questions are in blue.
i) She claimed to act as an advisor, and stated to several people she was connected to a broker in relation to the Stock Market; why was this, what were the investments and is she registered with the Financial Services Authority? We have documentary evidence of her having signed papers admitting to such.
ii) Various claims have been made by her of either being the illegitimate or adopted daughter of the late President Marcos; does she have documentary evidence to support this?
iii) The aunt who needed urgent treatment for cancer in this country (UK). Which hospital(s) was this aunt treated in, who was/were the consultant/s and who was the referring doctor? Is there documentary evidence of bills being paid for such treatment? (Note, if such evidence is forthcoming and is checkable, this information will be kept confidential and not placed in the public domain, just that we have ascertained its veracity)
iv) Why were so many cheques issued by her husband Richard Skeggs on personal and company accounts which were referred to drawer?
v) Various claims have been made by your client in relation to inheritance money coming from Spain or the Philippines. What documentary evidence is there of this?
vi) Why has your client made a business of borrowing money of the past few years whilst posing as wealthy, and the use of upmarket hotels in London such as the Marriott and Mandarin as a front?
vii) Why is your client so reluctant to speak on this matter, especially as a phone number she provided to solicitors representing claimants is barred from accepting incoming calls?
vii) Why is your client using convicted/jailed fraudster and struck off solictor Philip Englefield as an advisor?
1. My clients did borrow money from certain individuals and this will be repaid shortly. It is appreciated that some individuals have had to wait for repayment but that wait, I am instructed, will soon be over.
2. Please let me have the evidence of fraud, which is a serious allegation, that you rely on.
3. Please let me have copies of the documents you refer to so that I can take instructions on them. You can either email them to me or fax them to me.
4. My instructions are that Mrs Skeggs has not given investment advice. Again please let me have sight of the evidence that you rely on to the contrary.
5. In the circumstances I would ask you not to print any article about my clients or their family as it seems that it may be based on false and/or misleading information.
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