Police warn of new 'no-touch trafficking' modus

Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2017 07:06 PM

Police arrest Augustine Randy Alvarez (in white polo) for allegedly sexually assaulting and blackmailing a woman. Photo by Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The police has warned the public against a new modus used by criminals to entrap women into sex work.

The new modus, said the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATIPD) of the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC), makes use of mobile dating apps such as Skout, and messaging apps such as Viber.

One case they encountered, police said, was that of an 18-year-old woman from Bauan, Batangas who was allegedly victimized by 25-year-old Augustine Randy Alvarez, who police suspect might be a member of a crime syndicate.

Alvarez was arrested during an entrapment operation in Cubao, Quezon City on March 23.

Dubbed “no-touch trafficking,” Alvarez’s modus was to convince women he met on Skout to send him nude photos and videos through Viber.

Alvarez then used the photos and videos to blackmail the victim. He threatened to post them online if she refused to meet him for sex. 

Out of fear, and in hope he would fulfill his promise to delete the photos and videos, she complied. She traveled from Batangas to Cubao to meet the suspect, who brought her to a motel and sexually assaulted her, said WCPC-ATIPD Chief Superintendent Villamor Tuliao.

The suspect tried to get the victim to meet him for a second time, but she refused.

“Di pa nakuntento, after a week, tin-threaten niya na naman to publish yung mga nude photo nitong bata, na i-publish niya para makipagkita ulit dito sa suspek," Tuliao said. 

In her affidavit, the victim recounted, “Tumanggi ako na makipagkita…sa kanya kasi po pakiramdam ko po sa gusto niya akong ipagamit pa sa ibang lalaki at naaawa po ako sa sarili ko at nahihiya na po pamilya ko sa ginagawa niya sa akin.”

At her refusal, Alvarez allegedly demanded the victim to deliver another woman to take her place. If she did not comply, he threatened to let another man have sex with her and bring her to Cebu. 

The victim finally told a friend, and then her father about the situation. Her father brought the case to the police, and the ATIPD-WCPC set out to catch him.
 
Tuliao said the “No Touch Trafficking" is a new scheme used by syndicates.

“Based doon sa modus, no-touch trafficking, it’s a scheme wherein ang victim is bini-victimize nila ang victims online and they are forcing or coercing these victims to do whatever they wanted na pinapadala nila sa kung saan-saang place wherein imi-meet nila ang tao, which is hindi yon ang tao, ibebenta nila. So parang iyon yung nagiging modus nitong grupo na ito," Tuliao explained.

The PNP-WCPC meanwhile urged the public to exercise vigilance when using social media. 

“Sa mga kabataan…be prudent at maging maingat sa pag-accept ng friends at sa paggamit ng social media. At the same time, sa mga magulang, bantayan po natin ang ating mga anak sa paggamit ng social media on the Internet.” 

The ATIPD-WCPC also asked other victims of the same modus to seek help from their office and file complaints. 

Alvarez is charged with multiple cases for violating Republic Act 9208 as expanded by RA 10364 otherwise known as the Expanded Anti-Trafficking Act of 2012, Anti-Rape Law of 1997, Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, RA 9995 or Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009, and grave threat.