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Money, ammunition, a silencer and more found in Metro Manila ‘cybercrime hub’

August 19, 2023 Philippines Crime & Legal

A Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) raided early this month was the site of various allegedly illegal activities, including ‘love scams’ and human trafficking and where a total of 650 workers, 464 of whom are Filipinos and 186 foreigners of various nationalities, were taken into custody.

Original story by Daniza Fernandez for CNN Philippineswith insights from the ACN Newsdesk

Authorities on Thursday seized several items, including almost ₱7 million in cash, in a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hub in Pasay City that was raided early this month. Ammunition, tasers, and even a silencer were also recovered from the hub

Winston John Romero Casio, senior technical adviser and liaison officer of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), said most of the SIM were not yet opened. He added that they already reached out to the telecommunication firm involved, which was also clueless on how the SIM were pre-registered.

Hundreds of workers were found operating illegal activities such as love scams, illegal gambling, and cryptocurrency scams in the POGO hub this month.

Twenty-eight foreign nationals were detained and are facing criminal charges for violation of the Securities Regulation Code and Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Additional charges will be filed against them for violation of the SIM Registration Act, PAOCC said.

Authorities said the scam hub is the smallest and just one of those related to the POGO.

To avoid being tangled in illegal activities, Casio cautioned Filipinos to be wary of job opportunities they see.

“If the offer appears to be too good to be true, please don’t bite the bullet,” he said. “Let us help the government by not working for scam hubs anymore.”

The Philippine government had increased its crackdown on illegal gambling operations this year.

Police early this year also rescued around 3,000 Filipino and foreign workers while serving a search warrant on a Las Piñas City POGO firm allegedly involved in human trafficking and other illegal activities.

Filipino solons have likewise pushed the Marcos government to issue an absolute ban, with one senator saying that online gambling operators get away with ‘billions of unpaid taxes Other senators have cited POGOs as avenues for human trafficking and other crime.

National government figures have also made pronouncements in support of these recent developments against POGOs, with the country’s Finance Secretary saying that the revenue is not worth retaining the industry.

A senator also weighed in on the issue, saying that online gambling operators get away with ‘billions of unpaid taxes.

On the local government side, since last year, other component cities of Metro Manila have had regulations against POGOs with the latest being Valenzuela issuing an outright ban in the city.

Read the original article by Daniza Fernandez for CNN Philippines here:

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