Scammers Kidnapped Attractive People, Forced Them To Flirt Online, Authorities Say: REPORT

(Photo by MADAREE TOHLALA/AFP via Getty Images)

Julianna Frieman Contributor
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Scammers in the Philippines allegedly kidnapped hundreds of attractive people and forced them to flirt online, authorities said, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Police rescued more than 800 “good-looking men and women” after they were roped into a giant “love scam,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Approximately 432 Chinese nationals, 371 Filipinos and 72 others, which included people from Rwanda, were saved from the operation after a Vietnamese man reportedly escaped and alerted law enforcement.

The victims were tricked into entering a compound north of Manila under the guise that they would receive well-paying jobs, the outlet reported. However, they were allegedly forced to operate online scams to defraud others once they were inside under the threat of violence.

“The victims were controlled by having their passports confiscated so they were unable to leave,” said Gilberto Cruz, executive director of the crime task force that led the pre-dawn raid, according to The Herald. “The workers who failed to achieve their quota … were physically harmed, deprived of sleep or locked up inside their rooms.”

Individuals trapped in the compound sent “sweet nothings” to targeted online users as they chatted them up with questions about their day, said Winston Casio, a spokesman for the Presidential Commission Against Organized Crime. The scheme was described as a “pig butchering” operation fronting as an online gaming company, according to the outlet. (RELATED: ‘Free Money And Free Sex’: Men Are Losing Big Money On The Most Obvious Scam Imaginable: REPORT)

Those behind the scam deliberately trafficked “good-looking men and women to lure [victims],” Casio said, according to the outlet. The victims allegedly had to send photos of themselves and build strong relationships with their prey before convincing them to invest in fake schemes, cryptocurrencies or businesses, The Herald reported.

“These scam compounds are quite different to other forms of trafficking that we have seen before… and there’s a lot more brutality involved,” said Dr. Caitlin Wyndham from the anti-trafficking organization Blue Dragon, according to The Herald. “Tackling them is much more complicated because there are victims on both sides and because most scam centers are run by large and highly organized crime syndicates.”