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Php 1 Billion Worth of Crypto and Money Scams Tied to Confiscated POGO SIMs

Php 1 Billion Worth of Crypto and Money Scams Tied to Confiscated POGO SIMs
  • The majority of the seized SIM cards were collected during a raid at a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) facility in Pasay City, revealing connections to e-wallets and cryptocurrencies.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has revealed that confiscated subscriber identification module (SIM) cards are linked to money and cryptocurrency scams totaling around P1 billion. These findings were presented by DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy, who stated that these SIM cards were seized during law enforcement operations conducted in the previous two months.

DICT Seized SIMs

According to a report, most of the confiscated SIM cards, totaling more than 25,000, were seized during a raid conducted at a facility belonging to a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) situated in Pasay City. 

“So far, based on our coordination with law enforcement agencies, basically the value of the e-wallets and digital currencies, the cryptocurrencies that have been confiscated by law enforcement agencies could amount to a billion or more, and this is only based on the raids and the arrests that we’ve done for the past month and a half,” he said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay.

Secretary Uy had previously claimed that these SIM cards were actively employed in a variety of online scams.

DICT: P1-B worth of money, crypto found in confiscated registered sim cards | ANC

He stated that the department discovered the money and cryptocurrency linked to the cards when they accessed the e-wallets where they found out that some SIM cards had balances ranging from ₱50,000 to ₱100,000.

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The investigation has revealed that these cards, registered and linked to e-wallets, serve as repositories for ill-gotten gains accrued through a range of fraudulent activities orchestrated by criminal syndicates.

DICT Countermeasure

Despite the SIM card registration requirements in place, Uy acknowledged that text scams persist as some consumers sell their registered SIMs, while others register using counterfeit identification.

Accordingly, the DICT expressed that it was considering proposals to restrict the number of registered SIM cards per user or to impose a fee for registering a third or fourth SIM card under a single individual’s name in order to address the issue of SIM card fraud.

“In the next few months, we will be cleaning up those records together with the telcos,” Uy stated, asserting optimism now that they have already identified the techniques the scammers use.

The SIM Card Registration Act was signed into law on October 10, 2022.  It requires Filipinos to register their SIM cards using any government-issued identification in order to combat fraudulent activities and reduce the prevalence of text scams; the registration period ended on July 25, 2023.

The department has also issued a public warning about scammers who are migrating to alternative platforms such as Messenger and Viber, emphasizing the ongoing need for vigilance against digital fraud. Uy then affirmed that the government is collaborating with other digital ministers and developers around the world to address these issues.

DICT on Scam Prevention

In 2022, the DICT’s Coordinating Center (CICC) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with mobile e-wallet GCash. The MOA aims to strengthen the collaboration between GCash and CICC in going after perpetrators involved in phishing, smishing, online fraud, e-scams, vishing, and other cybercrimes that utilize the GCash app. 

This article is published on BitPinas: Php 1 Billion Worth of Crypto and Money Scams Tied to Confiscated POGO SIMs

Sources: ANC, MSN

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