The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended the criminal indictment of a foreigner for the trafficking of other foreigners who were allegedly forced to work as online scammers.
In an 18-page resolution, the DOJ’s panel of prosecutors has found probable cause to indict Chue Thiri Ngone, also known as “Christine Chue Ni Quian” and “Christine,” for qualified trafficking in persons under Section 4(j) in relation to Section 6(c) of Republic Act (RA)
No. 9208, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, as amended.
“Trafficking in human beings, if only to emphasize the gravity of its hideousness, is tantamount to modern-day slavery at work. It is a manifestation of one of the most flagrant forms of violence against human beings,” the panel stressed.
The DOJ prosecutors ruled that “all the elements of the offense were established by the acts of one respondent only, Christine. “As a matter fact, the trafficking offense should be qualified as it is committed in a large scale,” the DOJ prosecutors said.
The panel dismissed the charges against Christine’s co-respondents — Chinese nationals Hu Xian Jie, Sai Sai Kyein, Aeint Shwe Yi Htut, a certain Angeline, and a certain Chinese boss, and the owners, managers and supervisors of MOA Cloudzone Corporation, Oriental Group Company and Shuang Ma Company.
The resolution, which was dated Nov. 15, 2022 but made public on Wednesday, Jan. 25, was issued after a preliminary investigation on the complaint filed by 13 persons who were among 29 foreigners–23 Myanmar nationals and six Chinese.
The complainants were alleged workers of the Philippine Offshore
Gaming Operators (POGOs) and were reportedly rescued by the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP AKG) on Sept. 27, 2022 in Concorde Village in Paranaque City.
The PNP-AKG’s operation was conducted on a report of kidnap victims, spouses Htet Htet Moe Khaing and Thina Tun, who said that Thina Tun’s sister, Kay Thi Aung Thinn, was being held.
“All of the complaining witnesses aver that they were lured by job opportunities in the Philippines being offered by respondent Christine. Using her Facebook profile as an advertising platform, and the Telegram app to interview applicants, all thirteen (13) complainants were hired by respondent Christine,” the resolution stated. “All of them arrived in the Philippines sometime in March, April and June 2022, except for Tun Naing Win, who arrived in the Philippines on Aug. 30, 2022. Upon their arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), they were fetched by two Filipinos and transported to their dormitory at Concorde Village. Immediately upon arrival at the dormitory, they met respondent Christine, who then confiscated their passports and briefed them of their tasks,” it said.
The panel noted the foreigners were made to work as scammers, by downloading and creating profiles in dating apps such as, Tinder, Meet Me, Top Face, Waplog, Jaumo, Tan Tan, Hinge, Mingle 2, Top Face, Wink, Summer, Muslima, Grindr, Skout, and Ok Cupid, where they would chat and entice clients to play online or buy crypto USDT from exchange apps like Binance, OKX, Coinbase and Trustwallet.
“The USDT bought will then be transferred or invested in www.odabd.com and ODA1679 platforms which were controlled by respondent Christine,” it said.
The panel noted that the complainants were made to work in three different companies with offices located in Manila, namely: Nex Gen Tower, Oriental Group, and Shuang Ma Company.
It said the complainants also said that if they failed to meet their quotas, “they were fined in the amount of P100 to P200 and were also punished physically by having to do 200 sit-ups, electrocuted, beaten, starved, and threatened to be sold to another Chinese company.”
“Having been duped of the nature of their employment, the delayed release of their salaries, and the toxic working conditions, all of them manifested their desire to resign from their jobs. However, they were warned by respondent Christine and a Chinese Boss that if they resigned, they have to pay P550,000 as reimbursement for the expenses incurred for their plane tickets, visa fee, IDs, board and lodging. Hence, they stayed and continued to work, until they were rescued on September 29, 2022,” the panel also said in its resolution.