BI warns Pinoys anew vs call center trafficking scam abroad


Posted at Mar 16 2023 02:00 AM

Bureau of Immigration Manila, November 10, 2016. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File.
Bureau of Immigration Manila, November 10, 2016. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File.

MANILA - The Bureau of Immigration on Wednesday warned Filipinos anew over call center scams abroad that have victimized aspiring OFWs.

In a statement, the BI said a Filipino woman was repatriated from Thailand on March 9 after she fell prey to a similar trafficking scam in Myanmar.

According to the bureau, the woman was recruited through Facebook by a Filipino named ‘Mel’ and ‘Sam’ to work in a call center in Thailand. 

The victim was told to pose as a tourist to Thailand. She was then reportedly fetched by a private car and traveled for 12 hours until reaching Myanmar. 

"The work was with an online betting company with Indian nationals as their target market. She was initially told that she will be compensated $1000 to $1500 a month, but was instead required to reach a quota of half a million Indian Rupees or roughly P330,000, in order to gain commission which will be her main compensation," the BI said.

Watch more News on iWantTFC

The victim was forced reportedly to work for at least 12 hours a day, without a day off, while being required to pay P170,000 for her release and another P28,000 to cross the river back to Thailand. 

She sought help from the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok which led to her repatriation.

Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said even "professionals are being recruited to this scam."

"This is literally modern-day slavery, and victims were required to pay for their release from the syndicate. We reiterate our call for Filipinos not to fall for this kind of scam, always secure work legally through the Department of Migrant workers,” he said.

A Philippine foreign ministry official last February said Chinese criminals running cryptocurrency scams in Southeast Asia are targeting Filipinos to work for them because of their English language and computer skills.

Filipinos were "prized" targets for scam networks operating in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, said Eduardo de Vega, acting undersecretary for migrant workers affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

An AFP report last year found people from around Asia -- including from Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Bangladesh and India -- have been pulled into similar operations in Cambodia, some trafficked and beaten by scam operators. - With a report from Agence France Presse