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Anti-cybercrime raids call center harassing debtors
AGENTS of the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) on Saturday raided a Chinese-owned call center-like office in Pasig City whose employees are accused of harassing and embarrassing borrowers who have failed to pay their debt on time and arrested a foreigner and his 45 Filipino employees, a report to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Dionardo B. Carlos yesterday.
“The suspects have long been the subject of numerous complaints from hundreds of people who have borrowed money from the company. Thru their call center-like operations without any government permit, pinapahiya nila ang mga borrowers na hindi agad nakakabayad sa kanila sa mga relatives and friends nila thru text messages or sa social media,” said PNP-ACG director Brig. Gen. Robert T. Rodriguez.
The arrested owner of the raided company was identified as Shihai Dao who is now facing charges for misuse of device and violation of Republic Act 9474 or the Lending Company Regulation Act under RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
According to the PNP-ACG director, officers from their Cyber Response Unit led by Lt. Col. Jay D. Gullermo and their Digital Forensic Unit under Lt. Col. Zaldy K. Abellera raided the office located at the 10th floor of Strata 100 in Bgy. San Antonio, Pasig City 2:00 p.m. Saturday on the strength of a warrant to search, seizure and examine computer data issued by Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46.
“Those complaints have prompted us to build a case against the company owned by the arrested Chinese national,” he said.
Rodriguez, citing a report to Lt. Col. Guillermo said the raided company identified as Cash Trees Lending Corporation has several lending apps under its wing. Ten of them were identified as “Happylend”, Rush Loan, Easy Money, Good Pocket, Lucky Star, Swipe Cash, 365 Cash, Mega Loan, Treecash, and Goldpeso.”
He said that these lending/loan apps have no certificate of authority from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Representatives from the SEC’s Enforcement and Investor Protection Department and the Pasig City Police Station assisted the PNP-ACG men in the conduct of the raid.
Brig. Gen. Rodriguez said they have found out that the syndicate entices their victims/borrowers to download a mobile application in which they have to accept the loan’s terms and conditions while granting the company access to their contacts, cameras, and Facebook connections.
Once they fail to pay their debts on time, the borrowers will be humiliated before their relatives and friends whose names can easily be accessed by the company thru their Facebook contacts and other references.
“I remind the public, to be cautious, and to take measures before engaging in online transactions to avoid being victims of this online fraud,” Rodriguez said.