Nearly ₱7M, 24,000 SIM seized in POGO hub

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 18) — Authorities on Thursday seized several items, including almost ₱7 million in cash, in a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hub in Pasay City that was raided early this month.

Also confiscated were 24,000 pre-registered SIM, over 9,000 cellphones, passports, credit cards, and documents like contracts from 32 vaults in SA Rivendell Gaming Corporation, an alleged scam hub fronting as a POGO.

Winston John Romero Casio, senior technical adviser and liaison officer of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), said most of the SIM were not yet opened. He added that they already reached out to the telecommunication firm involved, which was also clueless on how the SIM were pre-registered.

Hundreds of workers were found operating illegal activities such as love scams, illegal gambling, and cryptocurrency scams in the POGO hub this month.

"'Yung kanilang operation po is napaka-segregated, napaka-silo na hindi alam ng ibang nagtatrabaho dito na they are actually in a scam," Department of Information and Communications Technology Cybercrime Investigation Office Director Rojun Hosilis said.

[Translation: Their operation is segregated, isolated that some of the workers here do not even know they are actually in a scam.]

Twenty-eight foreign nationals were detained and are facing criminal charges for violation of the Securities Regulation Code and Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Additional charges will be filed against them for violation of the SIM Registration Act, PAOCC said.

Authorities said the scam hub is the smallest and just one of those related to the POGO.

To avoid being tangled in illegal activities, Casio cautioned Filipinos to be wary of job opportunities they see.

"If the offer appears to be too good to be true, please don't bite the bullet," he said. "Let us help the government by not working for scam hubs anymore."