Philippine police arrest more than 500 people over fraud

More than 400 of the detainees are from China, while the rest are from Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Indonesia.

Philippines - Chinese
In September, Philippine police had arrested more than 300 Chinese accused of involvement in illegal online gambling and other crimes [File: Bureau of Immigration via AP]

Philippine police and immigration authorities have arrested more than 500 foreigners, mostly Chinese involved in telecommunications and investment fraud, in one of the biggest mass arrests this year.

The 542 foreigners, who were arrested on Wednesday night in a raid on their company premises in metropolitan Manila, did not have work permits and were involved in defrauding victims mostly in China by blackmailing or tricking them into sending out money, said Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente and other officials.

The Chinese government provided information that led to the arrests of more than 400 Chinese and other workers from Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Indonesia, said police Major General Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar.

The suspects were being interrogated at a police gymnasium because there were so many of them, he said. 

Pictures of the raid provided by the Immigration Bureau showed the workers, who included women, either standing up or seated in front of computer monitors with their hands clasped behind their heads in the company’s office.

Similar recent mass arrests indicate criminal syndicates involved in fraud and illegal online gambling may be trying to move their operations to the Philippines, Bureau of Immigration spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said.

She said that immigration authorities and other law enforcers “have been working triple hard on ridding the country of these illegal aliens”.

Wednesday’s arrests bring the number of arrested foreign workers to nearly 1,500, causing overcrowding at the Bureau of Immigration’s detention centre, which can only accommodate 140 detainees.

Immigration officials plan to move the detainees to a larger jail.  

Morente said those arrested face deportation if they violated immigration laws but would have to be jailed longer in the Philippines if they are convicted of crimes.

Sandoval also told reporters that some of those who were arrested entered the Philippines using a tourist visa and without the required labour documents.

Last month, immigration authorities, backed by army troops, arrested 324 Chinese accused of involvement in illegal online gambling and other crimes in a raid on eight hotels and other establishments in western Palawan province.

In a separate incident in the capital Manila, more than 90 Chinese women were also arrested following a raid om a bar, which was allegedly used as a front for a Chinese sex ring in the country.

More than 4,000 individuals have already been barred from entering the Philippines this year.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies