Roughly 2,700 people from China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and others from a total of 17 countries were rescued by Philippine security forces from human traffickers who had lured them into working for cyber crime syndicates and bogus online gaming sites, multiple reports said.
Philippine police’s anti-cyber crime unit raided hideouts in Las Pinas city near Manila and liberated 1,534 Filipinos and 1,190 foreigners from at least 17 countries, including 604 Chinese, 183 Vietnamese, 137 Indonesians, 134 Malaysians and 81 Thais, Brigadier General Sydney Hernia said, according to an Associated Press report. A handful of people from Myanmar, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria and Taiwan were also rescued.
Some of the victims were forcibly retained in buildings to recruit players for online games, reports said.
The number of perpetrators, including leaders of the cyber crime group who may have been apprehended in the raid is not clear. Authorities said they will conduct interviews to determine who is a victim and who is a suspect.
Considering the large number of victims and the magnitude of the raid, it was said to be the largest such operation so far this year, the AP and other outlets reported. In May, Philippine police raided another suspected cybercrime base at the Clark freeport in Mabalacat city in Pampanga province north of Manila. In that action, police liberated some 1,400 Philippine and foreign victims who had allegedly been coerced into working on cryptocurrency scams, the AP reported. In that raid, workers told local authorities that they feared if they tried to leave they might be sold to other cyber crime operations.
International concern has been growing over online scams in Asia.