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851 POGO workers fall in Tarlac raid

February 2, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 3170 views

Firm operates ‘crypto’ investment scam

AGENTS of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) on Wednesday afternoon raided a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) gaming firm in Bamban, Tarlac said to be operating an “investment scam” and took custody of its 851 employees, PNP-CIDG Director Brigadier General Romeo M. Caramat Jr. said yesterday.

In a report to PNP Chief Gen. Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr., the official said that 351 foreigners and 500 Filipinos working for the raided company were apprehended during the operation and are now facing an investigation for running a cryptocurrency investment scam.

Members of the CIDG Regional Field Unit (RFU) 3 under Col. Joshua Alejandro led the Tarlac operation with the support of the PNP’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG), the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), and the Tarlac Police Provincial Office (PPO).

The lawmen implemented a Warrant to Search, Seize and Examine Computer Data or WSSECD for violation of Section 26 or fraudulent transactions i.e., engaging in any transaction, practice, course, or business which operates as a fraud or deceit upon persons or Republic Act (RA) 8799 otherwise known as the Securities Regulations Code of the Philippines in relation to Section 6 of RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, said Caramat.

Caramat said the raid at the POGO’s office in Sitio Pag-asa in Bgy. Anupul, Bamban, Tarlac was conducted on the strength of an order issued by Judge Maria Flor A. Ortiz of the Tarlac City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 63.

The PNP-CIDG director said that one of those arrested during the raid was a Malaysian national who is being investigated for operating a fraudulent cryptocurrency business using their POGO license as a front.

“We have received reports that the said gaming company is licensed as a POGO company but behind its permitted operation lies a fraudulent cryptocurrency investment scam,” said Caramat.

The PNP-CIDG has sought the assistance of officers from the PNP-ACG under Brig. Gen. Joel B. Doria in identifying, processing, and examining all computer data’ confiscated during the raid.

Criminal complaints for violation of Section 26 of RA 8799 (Securities Regulations Code of the Philippines) in relation to Section 6 of RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) are being readied for filing against the arrested suspects.

Caramat said his men are also still tracking down three other suspects, a Filipina and two Chinese nationals in connection with the raid.

“While the Senate hearing on the stopping or shutting down POGO operations is ongoing, the CIDG also remains relentless in its intelligence-driven and intensified anti-criminality campaigns against said gaming companies or corporations as a continued response to the directive of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and our PNP Chief Gen. Azurin to crack down on all illegal online gaming operations in the country,” said the PNP-CIDG director.

Officers served the WSSECD in the presence of the company’s general manager and local barangay officials.