Hundreds freed from ‘pig-butchering’ compound after victim escapes

Over 600 workers who had been forced to take part in so-called ‘pig-butchering’ crypto scams in the Philippines were rescued by authorities on Thursday after one victim scaled the walls and fled, alerting the police. 

Authorities freed 383 Filipinos, 202 Chinese, and 73 other foreign nationals from a compound in Bamban, a northern district in the Philippines.

According to Winston Casio, a spokesman for the Presidential Commission Against Organized Crime, the center trapped “good-looking men and women to lure [victims].” He says that freed victims are still ‘shaken’ by the ordeal. 

Trapped individuals are forced to carry out romance scams all day that seduce victims into investing in bogus crypto platforms. In most cases, they are tortured and forced to work long hours with few or no breaks. 

Read more: United Nations reports USDT used for money laundering across SE Asia

According to a BBC report, the escaped individual was a Vietnamese man in his 30s who had enrolled as a chef at the center, which it was claimed was an online gambling firm. However, he was subsequently held against his will and forced to conduct crypto scams that Casio claims were mainly directed towards Chinese nationals. 

The man was able to escape after climbing over the center’s wall, crossing a river, and hiding out on a farm. He claimed others had tried to escape but were not successful. Casio said the man was found with electrocution scars, suggesting he was tortured.

Crypto and pig butchering go hand in hand 

Police in Myanmar freed 1,200 slaves from a similar compound earlier this month. One pig butchering scam based there made $100 million in USDT over two years.

These scams are often orchestrated across Asia and rely on USDT to make their money. A recent report suggested close to $75 billion has been made from their exploits. However, a blockchain forensics expert has since raised concerns that the report may have inflated this figure by “a few orders of magnitude.”

Read more: Blockchain forensics expert has doubts over $75B ‘pig butchering’ report

Regardless, the United Nations (UN) reinforces that USDT is used by the criminal underworld in a ‘parallel banking system.’ According to the UN, hundreds of thousands of victims have been trafficked across the globe to work these scams. The FBI reported that pig butchering caused $3.3 billion worth of losses in the US, affecting at least 40,000 victims.

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