More than 1,000 individuals who were victims of human trafficking and forced to work up to 18 hours a day for cryptocurrency scams have been rescued by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Authorities arrested 12 suspected ringleaders, including seven Chinese, four Indonesians, and a Malaysian, who will face charges of human trafficking.
Crypto Scam Ring Disrupted
According to local media reports, the traffickers lured victims through job offers that included free flights and accommodation, but confiscated passports on arrival. Workers were forced to operate online scams and put in long hours with additional deductions for taking breaks or speaking with colleagues.
The PNP revealed that 1,090 individuals were rescued, with victims from various Asian countries, including Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand. Those arrested are suspected of operating fraudulent cryptocurrency scams through entities called Colorful and Leap Group Co.
Michelle Sabino, spokesperson for the PNP’s anti-cybercrime group (ACG), said the ringleaders trained workers to establish fake romantic relationships with strangers and manipulate them into purchasing cryptocurrencies or depositing funds into bogus bank accounts. The scams targeted unsuspecting individuals in the US, Europe, and Canada.
“They will build up a promise of a good future together. Let’s buy a house, buy a car, let’s invest money, or let’s do business together.”
Crypto Romance Scams on the Rise
CryptoPotato previously reported that scam tactics had changed in the bear market, with one gaining notoriety: crypto romance scams. Bad actors forge romantic relationships with victims online to trick them into stealing funds through various methods, including fraudulent investment advice or malicious links to drain cryptocurrency wallets.
A 60-year-old Indian woman was recently scammed out of almost $30,000 in a crypto investment fraud through a matrimonial site in March.