Ex-flight attendant in P500-M ‘Birkin scam’

Posted at 07/02/2012 7:37 PM | Updated as of 07/03/2012 11:58 AM

MANILA, Philippines – People are abuzz over a scandal involving a former flight attendant-turned-arts personality who allegedly duped members of high society into investing in a Hermes bag reselling scheme.

It all began when the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported over the weekend that “Sheila” (not her real name) made off with about P500 million from what the newspaper called the “Birkin scam,” named after the pricey designer bags.

She was described as “a very simple girl” who had “a knack for sales.”

“Nate,” (not his real name), a gallery director in a Manila university owned by his family, told Inquirer that he used to buy designer bags during his trips to Europe as requested by Sheila, who said that it was for her “clients.”

He said he made money by keeping the tax refund for each bag.

“Let me be clear that I was only doing this for fun. I only did it on the side, I didn’t travel to Europe just to buy bags for her,” he said.

Nate and his partner, "Tom" (not his real name), eventually realized that the Birkin deal was a scam, adding that Sheila has been duping people with transactions involving jewelry, watches and paintings.

“To others, it would be paintings,” Inquirer quoted Tom, whom it described as another owner of an art gallery.

“There are lots of sad stories. She got money from someone who was getting chemo. Someone’s house got foreclosed because they invested all their savings with Sheila. She also got money from the owner of her son’s school, even the PTA. Of course, how could they not trust her? She brought her son’s entire class to Ocean Park, complete with lunch!” he added.

Nate and Tom also scored Sheila and her husband, who works for a high-profile politician, for their lavish lifestyle.

They believe that Sheila is now hiding somewhere in the United States as a case has been filed against her.