Philippine police stormed a call centre, arrested 482 people they say were running a stock market scam on South Africans

Business Insider SA
(Philippine National Police)
  • Philippine police arrested an entire call centre it says was run by Israeli citizens involved in running a stock market scam – including on South Africans.
  • One of the complaints that led to the raid came from South Africa, others from Australia.
  • The company, International Branding Development Marketing, has been linked to iTrader, a foreign-exchange broker shut down in Israel.

Heavily armed members of the Philippine National Police stormed a call centre in a free-trade zone and arrested 482 people on Wednesday, then paraded the Israeli 'managers' at a press conference.

Police said it had caught the company, International Branding Development Marketing, in the act of transacting with clients in various countries, including South Africa.

But the clients were investing in shares in a fake UK company, police allege, in a scam that has cost victims dearly.

"Recent investigation revealed that the fraud has already reaped hundred millions of dollars from its foreign clients through online trading," the police said in a statement.

Philippine authorities are due to reach out to Interpol to help identify victims.

A search warrant was obtained based on the complaints of several Australians, and one South African.

Police told journalists that one part of the scam involved getting credit card information, and later access to bank account details, from victims.

The operation had used "several different names" over the years, according to police.

CNN Philippines aired police footage of the raid in the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.

In late 2016 the company raided, IBD-M, was linked to iTrader, a foreign-exchange trading operation that had been raided by Israeli authorities. The two companies were apparently also interlinked with a third named FM Trader.

Police said the Philippine call centre had been operating for about 30 months.

A job posting from late 2017 suggest that it was rapidly growing recently; at the time it was looking for 50 call centre agents, no experience required.

In a lengthy press conference, police paraded the supposed Israeli masterminds behind the scheme, and translated testimony by an Australian victim.

Extremely dubious foreign exchange and binary option providers based in Israel have targeted customers around the world to such an extent that political leaders last year warned it was leading anti-Semetic sentiment because Israel was seen as complicit.

The Philippines, supposedly a fallback favourite location since an Israeli crackdown, has vowed to deal harshly with cybercriminals found on its shores.

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