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MANILA, Philippines—More than 300 foreigners, suspected members of a cybercrime and human trafficking syndicate, were arrested in simultaneous raids in Quezon City, Marikina City, and Cainta and Antipolo City in Rizal province on Thursday.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said among those arrested were the two suspected financiers of a group involved in credit card fraud and human smuggling in Taiwan and China. “[This is] the biggest and most resolute operation carried out by law enforcement units in the history of anticyber crime drive [in the Philippines],” Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr., CIDG chief, said in a statement. The raids demonstrate the strong will of the authorities to [run after] these foreigners who have made the country their base of criminal operations.

According to the CIDG’s deputy director for operations, Senior Supt. Keith Singian, the group’s modus operandi “is a classic example of the operations of criminal syndicate in China, only this time, the suspects who are foreigners have used the Philippines as base of operations.”

Many of the victims agreed to transfer their money out of fear and anxiety, Villasanta said. “The syndicate made at least P20 million a day through this kind of modus operandi.” The Chinese police discovered that the syndicate had transferred to the Philippines when they traced the Internet Protocol address that the suspects had used to contact their victims residents of Taiwan and mainland China since 2007. An initial investigation revealed that the arrested suspects have links with an international fraud syndicate that operates in the Philippines and abroad, Villasanta said. They are involved in credit card fraud, large-scale human trafficking and international long-distance call bypass operations.

Senior Supt. Keith Singian, CIDG operations chief, said the modus operandi of the arrested foreigners was similar to the activities of 37 Chinese nationals who were arrested in May by the CIDG for hacking international gateway facilities and engaging in financial fraud. Following the crackdown on the group by the Chinese authorities in 2010, [the syndicate] moved their operations outside China and continued  victimizing Chinese nationals through the Internet.

In Marikina City, Senior Supt. Gabriel Lopez, chief of police, told the Inquirer that 18 males and four females were arrested in a house on Moscow Street in Loyola Grand Villas. The house  was owned by a Filipino, but he refused to reveal his identity. The foreigners, Lopez said, were paying monthly rent to the owner. The house was made to look like a call center, with numerous phone lines and telephones inside.

In Antipolo City, Supt. Rodino Elfa, chief of police, said the CIDG and the local police raided two houses in Vermont Park, Barangay Mayamot. Twenty-five individuals were arrested. More than 300 telephones were also confiscated by the police.

At Filinvest subdivision in the municipality of Cainta, several houses were raided by the CIDG in collaboration with the local police. A CIDG source said the raid resulted in the arrest of more than 100 foreigners.

Cross-posted from: Inquirer Global Nation

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