Manila– Philippine authorities have rescued more than 1,000 people from several Asian countries who were smuggled into the country, detained and forced to conduct online scams, an official said Saturday. International alarm has risen in recent months about online scams in a region that often operates for trafficking victims who are tricked or coerced into promoting bogus investments in crypto.
Michael SabinoOfficers raided a group of buildings on Thursday in the city of Mabalacat, 90 kilometers north of Manila, said a spokeswoman for the Philippine National Police Force’s anti-cybercrime group. A total of 1,090 people who were recruited for online scams have been rescued, and Sabino said the victims were forced to target unsuspecting people in the United States, Europe and Canada.
Their passports were confiscated and they were forced to work up to 18 hours a day, with pay cut off to interact with colleagues or take long breaks. “You are like a prisoner without a cell. You are not even allowed to talk to your roommates,” Sabino told AFP. “They are not allowed to leave outside the bounds of the gate. After 18 hours of work they are brought to their accommodation.”
Police said in a separate statement that most of the victims were Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino and Indonesian nationals. The authorities have also rescued people from Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Myanmar, Hong Kong and Nepal.
Sabino said the workers were trained to lure strangers into buying cryptocurrency or depositing money into fake bank accounts after establishing fake romantic relationships.


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