Two victims of a crypto scam syndicate who were recruited to work as call centers abroad have arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), according to the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
The duo, a male and a female, were both former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They returned home via a Philippine airlines flight from Bangkok.
The two were reportedly recruited in the UAE, then flew to Thailand as tourists in October 2022 with another Filipino they met during the flight.
They were said to have been recruited by an agent who promised that expenses will be deducted from their salaries. The two were offered a salary of around P48,000 a month to work as customer service representatives in Thailand.
They said that they were added to a group chat in the social messaging application Telegram, where they were interviewed and hired by a Chinese national.
However, upon arrival in Thailand, a foreign escort fetched them for a 16-hour road trip, followed by a boat ride, then escorted by uniformed men to a company where they were supposed to work.
At that point, the victims realized that they were already in Myanmar, contrary to what was agreed upon.
They sought help from Philippine authorities through a compatriot who was earlier repatriated.
“We have observed that these human traffickers are preying on OFWs with expiring visas, particularly in the Middle East, and enticed to work ostensibly as call center agents in Asian countries,” Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said.
“However we are now seeing that this is a human trafficking scheme, and the victims end up being forced to scam other people and are being subjected to physical torture,” he added.
Tansingco reminded aspiring OFWs to apply through the Department of Migrant Workers to be able to legally work abroad.