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Sen. Hontiveros: Crypto Scam Hubs Now Operating in PH

Photo for the Article - Sen. Hontiveros: Crypto Scam Hubs Now Operating in PH

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Editing by Nathaniel Cajuday

  • Senator Risa Hontiveros, during a Senate hearing, warned that there are now crypto scam hubs in the Philippines, employing trafficked foreigners as crypto scammers.
  • A victim, alias Ridwan, shared that he was trafficked here in the Philippines to scam fellow Indonesians using social media.
  • Hontiveros then urged social media action and addressed national security concerns related to foreign entry.

Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros warned about the growing cryptocurrency scam industry in the country, with call centers employing trafficked foreigners. 

“Sadly, right under our very noses, the Philippines is hosting its very own scam hubs,” Hontiveros revealed during the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality hearing, adding that large condominium buildings are turned as working facilities for trafficked human beings forced to perform scams on victims.

Photo for the Article - Sen. Hontiveros: Crypto Scam Hubs Now Operating in PH

Victims from Multiple Countries

These trafficked victims, possibly numbering in the thousands according to Hontiveros, originate from countries in Africa and countries in South Asia, most commonly in Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Indonesia. For the lady senator, this development is a major concern for the Philippines.

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Last year, the senator also exposed a large-scale human trafficking operation targeting Filipinos seeking jobs abroad, who were then forced to work as scammers in Myanmar and Cambodia.

One of the witnesses, a rescued Filipina, mentioned how they were trained in crypto to become familiar with crypto exchanges. The modus is to entice their unsuspecting victims to download crypto apps like Coinbase, which the witness’ handler will try to take over and have complete control of the user’s funds. 

During the hearing, an Indonesian national, identified as alias Ridwan, not his real name, shared his experience of being tricked and trafficked into the Philippines to work as a scammer. He applied for a digital marketing role but was later forced to scam fellow Indonesians into fraudulent cryptocurrency investments. 

Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality (April 19, 2023)

Call to Action for Social Media Companies

When asked ‌where ‌‌they find victims, Ridwan disclosed that victims were mostly users of social media giants Tinder, Facebook, and Instagram, and were coerced into investing in cryptocurrency after being emotionally manipulated.

Hontiveros called on social media companies to take down and prevent dubious job ads that lead to these scam operations, emphasizing that Facebook ads may still be targeting nationals from Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Africa to work in Philippine-based fraud factories.

National Security Concerns

The senator also raised concerns about the ease with which foreigners can enter the country, potentially with the assistance of corrupt airport or immigration officials, and urged immediate action to address this serious national security issue:

“This is a serious national security concern that we must urgently address. We cannot allow these syndicates to turn our country into outlaw territory.”

Crypto Scams Proliferate in April

According to crypto audit firm CertiK, a total of $103.7 million worth of funds were lost in cryptocurrency-related scams last month. This brought the total amount of money lost this year due to these incidents to $429.7 million.

Check out the following pages on BitPinas on how to not become a victim of crypto scams: 

This article is published on BitPinas: Sen. Hontiveros: Crypto Scam Hubs Now Operating in PH

Disclaimer: BitPinas articles and its external content are not financial advice. The team serves to deliver independent, unbiased news to provide information for Philippine-crypto and beyond.