Bureau of Immigration (BI) shared that cryptocurrency scam syndicates have been using social media platform Tiktok to lure aspiring Filipino overseas workers.
BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco shared that they have uncovered the modus during their interview with 8 repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Cambodia.
The victims, whose ages ranging from early 20s to late 30s, were made up of 6 males and 2 females arrived early morning of February 26 at the Ninoy aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2, on board a Philippine Airlines flight from phnom penh.
They were reportedly rescued from their company through the help of the Philippine Embassy and Senator Risa Hontiveros. All 8 passengers were assisted by officials from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Department of Migrant Workers after undergoing immigration clearance.
The victims recounted that they were recruited after coming across advertisements on messaging and social media platforms Telegram, facebook, and Tiktok.
Three of the victims were spirited out of the country via Zamboanga, and did not pass through formal ports. Three departed via Clark, while two departed via NAIA.
Tansingco shared that the same immigration officer from Clark that was previously recalled and is being investigated for alleged facilitation was the same officer who cleared the 3 victims.
Crypto scammers use Tiktok, Telegram to lure victims
Meanwhile, the three who departed via Zamboanga stated that they traveled for 7 days to reach their destination. After going from Cebu to Zamboanga, they travelled to Jolo, Brunei, Jakarta, and Thailand before reaching Cambodia.
The two who left via NAIA on the other hand, presented themselves as tourists. One presented herself as an officer in a local company, while one of them traveled from Bangkok to Cambodia with his girlfriend. They claimed to be on vacation, but both ended up as workers in the scamming syndicate. The girlfriend was reportedly able to return early due to the demise of a family member, but the partner was threatened that he will be made to pay for her girlfriend's breach of contract.
The victims were all promised salaries of as much as 1000 USD per month, and were forced to work for 16-18 hours a day without day off.
Tansingco again reiterated his call against illegal job offers online.
“The trafficking landscape is very different now,” said Tansingco. “Professionals are being lured into seemingly good-paying opportunities, only to end up being trafficked in this crypto scam,” he stated.
He added that the issue must immediately addressed by concerted efforts of government agencies fighting against trafficking.
“This is a hard battle, and the BI is but one of the agencies against trafficking,” he said. “Trafficking is a multi-faceted issue and must be addressed from its roots. Those illegally recruiting and victimizing our kababayans must be arrested and jailed,” he added.