An American using the alias Steve Austin Conway has set up several websites to attract Hong Kong’s domestic workers to join a membership club and attend ‘parties’ with the promise of work in Las Vegas as luxury hotel maids. NGOs and helper agencies have raised concerns that his Hong Kong business is suspicious, whilst a 2-week investigation by Hong Wrong confirms that Conway is, in fact, a convicted paedophile from Seattle named Earl Lynn Bagley.
Bagley was a wanted fugitive until February 4th, 2013 when he was arrested in the Philippines and extradited to the US for failing to sign onto the sex offenders’ register. He came to Hong Kong last autumn, though a US Dept. of Justice website states that he – again – has been in violation of his obligations to sign onto the sex offenders’ registry since November 29th last year. No US bodies would comment as to whether he was being sought by authorities. It is unclear if he has a Hong Kong work visa.
In 2004, Bagley was sentenced to 51 months custody, including 3 years supervised release. Now aged 61, he remains on the California and Washington sex offender registries following 4 convictions including possession of child porn, child molestation, ‘oral copulation with a minor under 14-years-of-age or by force or fear‘ and ‘assault with intent to commit a specified sex offence‘.
Last Sunday, Hong Wrong arranged for an actress to pose as a domestic helper interested in Bagley’s Las Vegas work visa scheme. Their exchange was secretly recorded:
- In a hotel room at Chungking Mansions, Bagley told the actress her normal visa processing could take 4 years and that he would need 1,000 maids to sign up for it to be ‘cost-efficient’. Monthly membership fees must be maintained during the long US work visa process. His Foreign Domestic Workers Association of America.com site says members must also sign a contract and have their names and pictures displayed on his websites – at least 31 women have signed up. The scheme promises well-paid work, a tour of celebrity homes in California, a personal loan, a team of private immigration paralegals and a glamorous lifestyle in Nevada including 5-star accommodation and limousine travel.
- Bagley told the actress she could receive membership discounts and a 3-month fast-tracked work visa as a ‘corporate executive’ if she recruited others to join. Discounts and a revenue share could be arranged if she also sold HK$5 raffle tickets. Prizes include roundtrip plane tickets, HK$100,000 in cash, cell phones and computers. However, The Home Affairs Department confirmed with the blog that he lacks a Trade Promotion Competition Licence and thus his case was referred to the police.
- On the same day as the investigation, Bagley had promised ‘free KFC‘ meals for up to 2,000 new members at the Macau Ferry Terminal that afternoon.
- Several domestic workers were also in the room, one of whom claimed Bagley was an ‘immigration officer’.
- Upon leaving the hotel room, the actress was asked to distribute a pack of print-outs advertising a members-only 2014 Christmas party held at Lantau’s Disneyland Hotel. Tickets cost HK$1,500 (which may be paid in instalments). The fee includes a “gift from Santa Claus”. Until recently, his site claimed that the event had capacity for 200,000 domestic workers over 8 days.
On the same morning, Bagley was offered a right-to-reply. Though often evasive, he answered each question posed, making the following claims:
- Criminal record: His sex offender convictions were misunderstandings. His Filipino girlfriend ‘Bambi’ was born in 1992 and was over 15. Regarding his child porn offence, he “didn’t know those types of sites existed”, and such images were left on his computer by a friend. They were uncovered at a Canadian Immigration point along with “pictures of Osama Bin Laden dead”, which he intended to pass onto the media.
- Extradition: Though he was extradited from the Philippines last year for failing to sign onto the sex offenders’ register, he claims it was a “stupid case” as he is not obliged to do so if “away from the US”. (This is false. US law states that Bagley has been legally obliged to sign-on since last November).
- Identity: Since he was unable to pronounce his real name as a child, he changed it to a ‘business name’, which he used for a limousine business. His alias was inspired by a friend named Steven.
- Mother Theresa: During his work fundraising for orphanages, he met Mother Theresa in Los Angeles who persuaded him in Los Angeles to “get out of my limousine business and come to India and help the nurses” as an immigration advisor.
- Business viability: Bagley says he survives in Hong Kong thanks to a rich friend in Beverly Hills worth US$60 million. He does not have a plan to ‘break even’ with his maid business, as he trusts his members. He has “never really calculated” how many maids he would need to recruit to make money. During the interview, he said his business was legal, that he has a manpower licence, even though one isn’t required and no-one is obliged to recruit other members.
As of this today, his main site now states that membership is ‘free’.
Bagley runs several other websites in Hong Kong. Until recently, Hong Kong Domestic Helpers Holiday Parties.com and Travair International.com promised weekly members-only parties in “5 star hotels in Hong Kong, Kowloon & Discovery Bay” for HK$400 per week. His other two sites, international Immigration Information.com and Hong Kong Domestic Helpers Human Rights.com offer advice to vulnerable helpers or those wishing to emigrate.
Please contact us if you have had any interactions with Bagley or his companies. A follow-up to today’s post will be published tomorrow.