Interpol possibly involved in November Philippine call center raid
In Singapore, the Straights Times print edition reported on December 31 that The International Criminal Police Organization ICPO or INTERPOL, conducted raids as part of an operation called Operation First Light 2016 that netted over 1,500 people accused in a multimillion Euro scam targeting Asian countries.
The most prolific incidence was the arrest of 1,300 Chinese nationals “detained in the Philippines for fraudulent activities conducted out of a single building that were aimed at victims in China.”
As no other news of major raids has emerged from the country in that time period, one might come to the conclusion that this was the raid of Jack Lam’s Fontana Leisure Park and Casino area call center in the Clark Field Freeport.
Further information indicates the Interpol action was against “call centres suspected of being involved in telephone scams, money laundering, and illegal online gambling.” Law enforcement operatives in Austria, China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste and the United States took part in the operation according to reports.
After the Philippines raids, which if related, eventually resulted in Pagcor pulling Lam’s casino licenses and shuttering two casinos, 200 more Chinese nationals were arrested in Spain shutting down 13 call centers in Madrid, Barcelona and Alicante whose operators are accused of fleecing thousands of victims out of about €16 million.
Victims of the Spanish call centers were contacted by operators posing as police officials who told them that their bank accounts had been targeted by criminals and to transfer funds into another account so that police could track the criminals.
Other phishing or social-engineering scams pulled off by the thieves in order to gain personal knowledge of their victims and access financial information included telephone deception, romance scams and e-mail deception.
Makato Tanase, the Financial Crimes unit coordinator for Interpol said in a statement, “By sharing information through Interpol, police can overcome the challenges in investigating international telephone fraud, such as criminals frequently changing locations or IP addresses, and build working relationships to prevent similar criminal activity in the future.”