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Police arrest 44 foreigners linked to online scam

Published:Friday | July 11, 2014 | 7:00 AM


MANILA (AP):

Philippine police arrested 44 foreigners who allegedly ran an online blackmail syndicate that defrauded victims in China and Taiwan by duping them into believing that their bank accounts have been used by money launderers or terrorists, police said yesterday.

The arrests of 42 Taiwanese and two Chinese suspects are the latest success scored by a Philippine government crackdown with help from Interpol and foreign governments, but they also show how cybercrime groups have continued to flourish in the Philippines. In 2012, Philippine police arrested 380 suspected members of a blackmail syndicate, including 291 Taiwanese, 86 Chinese and a New Zealander, in the largest number of single-day arrests in a crackdown on online fraud.

In May, Philippine police officials reported that they have arrested, with Interpol's help, at least 58 Filipino suspects who duped hundreds of victims worldwide into exposing themselves in front of webcams or engaging in lewd chats, including a Scottish teenager who committed suicide after being blackmailed.

COMPUTERS NOW WEAPONS

The Philippines has been trying to build a capability to deal with the cybercrimes, but police say more has to be done, including strengthening legislation.

In the past, criminals only used guns," Senior Superintendent Gilbert Sosa of the national police's Anti-Cybercrime Group said. "Now their weapons are computers, wireless phones, and all sorts of telecommunications devices."

"It takes time, but we'll get to them with better technology and help from foreign counterparts," he said.