650 workers held in Pasay POGO raid

Emmanuel Tupas, Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
650 workers held in Pasay POGO raid
A law enforcer inspects a bank of cell phones during a raid on a Philippine offshore gaming operator in Pasay City on Tuesday night. Photo at left shows some of the POGO’s 650 employees, who were taken into custody following the raid.
Ernie Peñaredondo

For love scams, ‘pig butchering’

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) hub in Pasay City allegedly involved in cybercrime activities was raided by lawmen on Tuesday night wherein 650 employees were taken into custody.

Armed with eight warrants to seize, search and examine computer data from a Manila court, agents of the Philippine Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police raided the Rivendell Gaming Corp. Inc. office located in a five-story building at the corner of Zamora and Gaitos streets at around 9 p.m.

PAOCC executive director Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz said the raid was based on a tip that the POGO firm is a scam hub.

“During the raid, various individuals were caught operating digital platforms that were engaged in a number of illegal online activities,” Cruz said in a message on Viber.

Among these are love scams and “pig butchering,” a type of fraud wherein people are lured into online relationships and subsequently into cryptocurrency scams.

A total of 650 workers of the POGO firm, 464 Filipinos and 186 foreigners of various nationalities, were taken into custody.

Cruz said 300 of the employees are men while the rest are women.

One of the employees was found to be a Filipina who was rescued by the Philippine government in Myanmar.

An investigation revealed that the company’s operations were similar to a POGO hub raided at Sun Valley Clark in Pampanga wherein 1,000 suspected victims of human trafficking were rescued.

Cruz said the two POGOs had the same character development manual and incentive mechanism.

“The only difference was the absence of a detention and punishment facility given that the scammers are allowed to regularly go home,” Cruz said.

Justice Undersecretary Nicholas Felix Ty said they had an informant from the inside who alerted them about the illegal activities in the POGO hub.

Hundreds of cell phones and computer sets were seized during the operation.

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