Authorities in the Philippines arrested 277 Chinese in a raid against an online investment scam syndicate that defrauded hundreds of people. The mass arrests of the Chinese took place in Manila’s Ortigas financial district. Reports are that the Chinese Embassy is fully cooperating with the Philippine authorities and that there are more than 1,000 victims of the investment fraud.
Originally, four people were scheduled to be arrested, but authorities said that in conducting their raids that they caught 273 other Chinese who are of officially suspects in illegal online operations.
The Chinese government has cancelled the passports of the 277 people who have been arrested which has made them illegal workers in the Philippines and the Philippines Department of Immigration is now detaining the Chinese in its immigration jails in Manila where they will be detained until they appear before a judges and are either deported back to China or placed in prisons in the Philippines.
Since earlier this year, the Chinese government has been cracking down on crimes by Chinese citizens across Southeast Asia, including in Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It is estimated that there are more than 300,000 Chinese, many of who are specialists in IT and computer systems, who are working for online gambling outfits
Many of these people are recruited in China because of their computer expertise and offered salaries of $5,000 ~ $10,000 per month and are promised a comfortable lifestyle that includes a comfortable “tropical” lifestyle in an overseas country and work in a “fun and productive environment.”
Online gambling is illegal in China, but as soon as Chinese authorities close one website, another will appear within hour since sites are cloned multiple times. Since the website owners maintain databases of their customers, its easy for them to notify their customers of the names and IP addresses of new and replacement websites.
Indonesia and the Philippines and Vietnam have been favorite locations for many of the Chinese online gambling activities while casino gambling has been popular with Chinese in Cambodia, Macau and Malaysia. In July, 380 Chinese were arrested in Vietnam and authorities estimated that the illegal transactions totaled more than $436 million USD. August, Cambodia declared that casino gambling would be closed by the end of the year and within 3 weeks more than 120,000 Chinese working in Cambodia had left the country.
In August, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said that many Chinese citizens have been illegally recruited to work in the gambling industry in the Philippines, and that most do not have work permits. The embassy claims that Chinese recruited to work in online gambling outfits were often mistreated, although many people who have worked for the gambling outfits have said they were paid as promised, didn’t have any problems with their “employers” and were free to return to China when their contracts expired.
Gambling in casinos is legal but illegal international online gambling is much larger. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGC) said that is collected more than $235 million USD in revenues in 2017 and 2018 and will collect an estimated $130 million USD this year. The country is keen to grow the gaming industry and advertises gambling to its citizens and to international travelers visiting the country.
Because of the problems with Chinese online gambling and complaints by the Chinese embassy, PAGC has temporarily stopped the issuance of any new gambling licenses while it conducts a revue of online companies and determines their legal status and it has said that it hopes to be able to determine the status of all relevant companies by the end of this year.