In a recent operation, the Philippine National Police successfully rescued over 1,000 individuals held captive and forced to participate in online crypto scams.

The victims, hailing from several Asian countries, were trafficked into the Philippines where they were coerced into promoting fraudulent crypto investments.

Crypto scams have become increasingly prevalent in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, with victims lured by promises of online jobs, free flights, and accommodation.

Upon arrival, their passports were confiscated, and they were forced to work up to 18 hours daily with salary deductions for taking breaks.

The scammers behind these fraudulent activities are believed to be affiliated with the Colorful and Leap Group, and at least 12 ringleaders have been arrested in connection with the case.

The victims, mostly Vietnamese and Chinese, were trained to establish fake romantic relationships with strangers online in order to convince them to buy crypto assets or deposit money into bogus bank accounts.

CertiK, a blockchain security firm, reported that crypto scams resulted in losses of more than $100 million in April alone, with a larger portion of that due to exit scams.

Scammers are increasingly leveraging the hype surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) to orchestrate these types of scams and distribute malware. In fact, according to Meta Chief Security Officer Guy Rosen, “ChatGPT is the new crypto” from a bad actor’s perspective.