Cryptocurrency scammers trafficking Filipinos to work illegally in Southeast Asia seem to be targeting professionals.
In view of this, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Norman Tansingco ordered the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement (TCEU) to look into the records of the eight Filipinos who were victimized by a crypto ring and were repatriated on Monday after being rescued by the Philippine government. They were reportedly forced to trick individuals into investing in cryptocurrency.
Filipino recruits were required to develop relationships with their targets via social media, and entice them to invest in a pseudo-crypto account. If they were unable to scam enough people, they would be subjected to physical punishments. These networks reportedly operate in Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.
The repatriates, consisting of four males and four females, arrived via a Scoot Airlines flight from Singapore.
The four males were recruited online from a third country. The group flew from Dubai to supposedly work in Thailand, but were later transported to Myanmar. One of them left as a registered OFW in Dubai last 2019, while the three others previously left as tourists in 2016, 2019 and 2021 to visit immediate family members but have not returned since.
On the other hand, two of the female victims had previous short-term travels, with one even traveling with her husband. The other two were able to depart after having established personal capacity and local employment.
“This is a new form of trafficking that targets young, urban professionals who have the capacity to travel abroad. These highly-educated professionals would not even think that they would be vulnerable and be trafficked, as they are merely exploring opportunities that they may have encountered online,” said Tansingco.
The BI chief expressed his dismay at this new form of human trafficking, saying: “Professionals are now being lured by promises of good salaries and other incentives, only to be embroiled in this scam.”
The BI then reminded Filipinos both in the Philippines and outside the country to be cautious of job offers online and ensure that they obtain work legally.