Online Gambling Offer Scams Rise in Philippines

Following in a sharp rise in cases of online gambling scams the Philippines gaming regulator, PAGCOR, have issued a warning to the wider-public over the dangers of the practice. Criminal groups have capitalized on the economic hardship of the working classes and are luring people in with exuberant gambling offers they warn.

Online scam through email cash and credit card.

The surge in online scams related to gambling offers is a huge problem for the Philippines, as the most vulnerable people in society are falling victim to financial and identity theft. ©Mohamed_hassan/Pixabay

There has been a huge spike in the amount of marketing material found within local Philippines networks, many of which are promising customers the chance to play casino games with the guaranteed chance of winning cash. However, in the majority of cases, the customer is having their personal details, including credit card information, stolen and used to commit fraud on a mass-scale.

The scam is working so well due to the economic demise of citizens across the country. In these difficult times, the people have become far more susceptible to these shady gambling offers being produced by criminals. Whilst online gambling can often be legitimate, these scams are built without the interest of the customer at heart, there is no chance of winning money at these sites and it always results in a bad outcome for the end-user.

Following the massive rise in cases of fraud, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) has had to issue fresh warnings regarding the legality and advice when it comes to engaging in online gambling products. The government agency reaffirmed that it is committed to prosecuting the individuals behind the fraudulent activities, and highlighted the link with organized criminals who are also engaged in credit card fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.

It has become clear that these gambling offers are being used to target the most vulnerable people in society, preying on their economic struggle in an attempt to lure them into a damaging scam that would surely rob them financially and personally. The uncertainties that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought has made it a lot easier for criminals to steal financial information through the use of illegal bingo games, and online delivered gambling products – often via social media apps such as Facebook.

Reminding customers of the illegality of such activity, PAGCOR has reminded the country that not only is offering these services to the wider public crime, but engaging in any online gambling activity as a player is also illegal under the state gambling code. The law only allows a person or entity licensed by PAGCOR or other government agencies to engage in gambling activities.

Land-Based Casinos Across Manilla Still Closed

Another reason why this surge in only scamming activity through fraudulent betting and gambling offers is flourishing is that people have no other alternative. Since early March, the casinos across Manilla and some other urban areas have been completely closed for business and are not permitted to open again until mid-July in many circumstances.

There is a lot of confusion regarding when the right time to reopen will be, currently, there is no wider consensus on this decision, and the authority to reopen a casino is being made seemingly case-by-case. The tough economic conditions in the gaming sector of the Philippines have already caused five POGOs to closedown and many other locally-owned brick and mortar establishments are under similar financial pressures.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many were surprised in early May when PAGCOR gave the green light to several POGOs to resume business. The condition was these firms had enormous outstanding tax obligations and would need to clear these accounts if they reopened. The POGOs obviously serve huge financial importance to the Philippines authorities, and these locally-based online gambling operators provide services to customers overseas, generating huge revenues that will be vital for the national government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are few industries within the Philippines economy that have been given such preferential treatment during this time. The power of POGOs and those operating the largest such firms are becoming increasingly clear throughout the pandemic. As the need for income and economic activity continues to rise, POGOs stand as a vital resource for the Philippines national government to relieve pressure on the hardest-hit sections of their economic infrastructure.

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