Philippines rescues over 1,000 victims trafficked from across Asia to run online scams

MANILA: Philippine authorities have rescued more than a thousand people from several Asian countries who were trafficked into the country, held captive and coerced into committing online scams, an official said on Saturday. International alarm has intensified in recent months over internet scams in the region, often involving victims of trafficking tricked or coerced into promoting fake crypto investments.
michelle sabino, a spokeswoman for the Philippine National Police’s anti-cybercrime unit, said officers raided a cluster of buildings in the town of Mabalacat, about 90 km north of Manila, on Thursday. A total of 1,090 people recruited to run online scams were rescued. Sabino said the victims were forced to target unsuspecting people in the United States, Europe and Canada.
Their passports were confiscated and they were forced to work up to 18 hours a day, with pay deductions to interact with colleagues or take extended breaks. “You’re like a prisoner without a cell. You’re not even allowed to talk to your roommates,” Sabino told AFP. “They are not allowed to go outside the bounds of the gate. After 6 p.m., they are brought to their dormitory.”
The victims were mostly Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino and Indonesian nationals, police said in a separate statement. Authorities have also rescued people from Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Myanmar, Hong Kong and Nepal.
Sabino said the workers were trained to trick strangers into buying cryptocurrency or depositing money into fake bank accounts after forming fake romantic relationships.


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