The Philippine police were supported by commandos when they did a raid on Tuesday, rescuing 2,700 workers from the Philippines, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, and over a dozen other countries who were swindled into working for fraudsters using online gaming sites and other groups of cybercrime.

The size of the police raid that took place at night in Las Pinas and the number of victims of human trafficking rescued from buildings there was the biggest this year.

This is an indication of how the Philippines is the main base of cybercrime syndicate operations.

Stricter and Tigher Border Controls

At a summit in Indonesia in May, leaders from ASEAN agreed to tighten border controls, step up enforcement, and expand public education to combat organized crime groups that prey on these workers and force them to engage in online fraud.

Brig. Gen. Sydney Hernia, the head of the anti-cybercrime unit in the Philippines, has said that police with warrants searched and raided the buildings in Las Pinas around midnight. 1,534 Filipinos were rescued, and 1,190 foreigners from 17 countries or more. These include 604 Chinese, 183 Vietnamese, 137 Indonesians, 81 Thais, and 134 Malaysians.

Workers are offered high salaries to work at Online Casino

The scams in cybercrime are now the main issue in Asia with reports of people from the region and more than just being lured into taking jobs in Cambodia and Myanmar. A lot of these workers are trapped in slavery and they are forced to cooperate in scams that prey on people online.

The police raided a cybercrime base in Clark Freeport Mabalacat City, Pampanga. In May, 1,400 Filipino and foreign workers were under their custody who were forced to do cryptocurrency scams, based on the police statement.

When they attempted to resign, some employees claimed to investigators that they were made to pay a sizable sum for unknown reasons. In addition, workers were coerced to pay fines for perceiving work infractions.

Workers have been lured with high offers on salary and good working conditions in Facebook advertisements, but these promises were fake.

Captain Michelle Sabino, who is a spokeswoman for the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Cybercrime Group, has said that workers were told that they would work at an online casino.

Banning The Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs)

The Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO), arrived in the Philippines in 2016 at the beginning of the term of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential administration and have grown because of loose gaming laws in the Philippines.

These operations largely appeal to customers living in mainland China, where money gambling is banned. During their peak, POGOs hired over 300,000 Chinese workers and brought them to the Philippines.

Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros has exposed haunting details of a big cyber scam operation that was unearthed by raiders of a Clark firm where there were more than 1,000 human-trafficking victims from around Asia that were rescued. She contacted authorities to check for similar setups of criminals that pose as investors.

The lawmaker opposition renewed her intention to ban The Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the Philippines while noting that they add a “legal layer” to cyber scam centres, and are still under scrutiny. If POGOs are given permission to continue their business, the crypto scam and human trafficking operations will increase at an alarming rate that the government will never be able to recover from.

Cybercrime Scams a Big Issue

Cybercrime scams are now a huge issue in Asia with reports of people that come from the region and more being lured into taking jobs in other Asian countries.

The rescued victims were processed to obtain their travel history, personal profiles, and purposes of documentation before being turned over to their embassies, based on his statement.

The targets of the raid, owners of the hub, were Liangfei Chen, Quiha Lu, Abbery Ng, and Jimmy Lin. These suspects were all Chinese and violated the anti-trafficking persons law in the country.

The continued efforts to rescue more human trafficking victims have led to this, and there could possibly be more who are waiting to be found.   

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TheStar (Jun 2023) – 2,700 people tricked into working for cybercrime syndicates rescued in the Philippines 

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