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Philippines Regulators Work With US Law Enforcement to Combat Crypto Fraud

2 mins
Updated by Michael Washburn
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In Brief

  • The Philippines has turned to the US Securities and Exchange Commission for help dealing with a growing crisis.
  • The problem of cryptocurrency scams got international attention last spring after police broke up a trafficking ring.
  • Nothing could more vividly illustrate the scale of the problem, along with the need for interagency collaboration.
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How bad has the problem of cryptocurrency fraud and scams has gotten in the Philippines? The nation’s financial regulators have looked abroad for expert help.

The Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has undertaken joint training with the US SEC, according to a new report in The Asset. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was also part of the training workshop.

The Philippines SEC and the US SEC Have Common Goals

The workshop reportedly took place last month under the auspices of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). The Filipino SEC has also reportedly signed IOSCO’s Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding with regard to crypto scams.

It is not hard to understand the regulators’ motives for expanding their efforts to combat crypto fraud. Just look at the sheer scale of the crisis. Not to mention the lurid stories that have drawn international attention in recent months.

At the beginning of May, Filipino police conducted raids aimed at breaking up human trafficking networks. In total, they reportedly rescued more than a thousand victims. The captives hailed from at least nine nations in Asia. The traffickers had put them to work against their will as callers and texters in crypto scams.

The traffickers forced their captives into a compound two hours outside Manila. There, the hapless victims had no choice but to reach out to strangers via social media and WhatsApp.

The goal? To commit romance and pig butchering scams. The strangers contacted would think they had a new love interest. Flush with excitement, they would invest their funds in a fake crypto platform.

Filipino officials reportedly learned of the atrocious scam after Indonesian victims managed to get in touch with the police in their own country. The Indonesian police duly shared the information.

Learn more about the human trafficking and crypto scam that made headlines around the world.

The Philippines SEC seeks help in fighting crypto fraud, a prevalent type of cyber scam even before the human trafficking scandal of May 2023. Source: Statista

The Philippines Borrows a Page From Gary Gensler

For all the crypto community’s dislike of US SEC Chair Gary Gensler—a feeling he reciprocates—his tough approach to enforcement just might be in order here.

In an interview on Bloomberg Daybreak Podcast in July, Gensler voiced his disappointment in the judicial ruling favoring Ripple in its legal battle with the SEC.

He also directed a number of slurs at the crypto industry. Gensler called it “a field rife with fraud, rife with hucksters.” Then he went on to call for greater resources or, as he put it, “more cops on the beat” to police the industry.

Expert training is well and good, of course. But Gensler’s advice, so ominous to the ears of many crypto players, may be wise counsel in a context where crime really does run rampant.

Gensler may have expressed a one-sided view of crypto. But more cops on the beat may be just what the Philippines needs.

Namely, to break up human trafficking rings. And to eliminate scams that continue to harm the image and reputation of crypto and make people associate it with fraud.

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Michael Washburn
Michael Washburn is a New York-based managing editor who joined BeInCrypto in March 2023. Over his career, he written extensively about the corporate legal world and the intersection of finance and law, has produced thousands of articles and features, and has mentored many reporters and researchers finding their way in a fast-changing industry.
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