490 arrested for massive online scam in Clark, Pampanga

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested on Wednesday, June 6, 490 individuals for allegedly taking part in a multimillion-dollar fraudulent trading operation.

The PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) and the Special Action Force busted 3 buildings in Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City in Pampanga housing hundreds of operators. The alleged syndicate was apparently headed by 8 Israelis who were also arrested.

The PNP acted on complaints filed by Australians and South Africans claiming to have been tricked by the company. Based on the PNP's estimate, the alleged fraud had already raked in millions of dollars before being busted.

How did the fraud work? According to ACG director Chief Superintendent Marni Marcos Jr, the alleged scam used a fictitious stock trading system. They apparently posed as a company that had a portfolio of stocks that kept rising.

“They showed their victims that they will invest in this because you saw it, the graph is going up and, you are going to earn money,” Marcos explained in a press conference on Thursday, June 7.

“They are projecting themselves that this stock company is operating in London but actually this is in the Philippines,” he added.

Why nab them now? The police anti-cybercrime chief said the company had already been operating for two and a half years before it was taken down on Wednesday.

Marcos said they are still investigating how the fraud evaded authorities for a long time while operating on such a scale.

PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said they are also looking into the possibility that freeport authorities committed negligence for failing to monitor the company.

 “That's very questionable how they were able to establish this big call center with this number of employees,” Albayalde said.

What will happen next? All of those arrested, Marcos said, are facing complaints for allegedly violating Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, leading to syndicated estafa. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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