On September 15, it was reported that Philippine National Police (PNP) raided the office of an alleged cryptocurrency scam that was targeting investors from China. According to the report, law enforcement officials were acting on a tip from the Chinese government when they discovered the online investment scam.
The offices were raided as part of a joint task force involving several different law enforcement agencies in the country. According to the report, 277 Chinese nationals were arrested during the raid in Pasig City. Each was being held on suspicion of using cryptocurrency operations to trick unsuspecting investors back in mainland China.
The raid took place on September 11 and was led by agents with the Bureau of Immigration. The raid was conducted on Grapefruit Services Inc., which is located on the 37th floor of the One Corporate Center in Ortigas Center, the business hub of Pasig City. Grapefruit had received the proper authorization as a provider of Golden Millennial Quickpay Inc. Ltd., which is a cryptocurrency company located offshore and licensed by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).
CEZA is a government-owned corporation which oversees the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport. These special economic areas were created to attract foreign and local investment. The government of the Philippines has allowed cryptocurrency firms to operate in this region since April 2018, but they must receive a license from the CEZA in order for them to do so. It appears from all reports that this company had received the proper licensure.
According to reports, the firm had been operating outside of the designated zone. This resulted in a violation which brought the entire operation to the attention of law enforcement officials. CEZA officials had no comment related to the matter.
While the scam appears to have been averted before investors were defrauded, there are far too many reports across the globe of individuals being cheated by these scammers. Country set his Saudi Arabia and Malta have been trying to warn their citizens against these types of scams.
Despite this, it is becoming far too frequent a story related to digital currencies. Recently, law enforcement officials in Australia reported that over $4.1 million was fraudulently obtained in 2018, a 190% increase over the previous year.
It is another cautionary tale that investors need to be on their toes and have their eyes wide open. Offers that sound too good to be true often are.
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