Editor’s update on Sept. 14, 2023, 3:50pm: multiple sources mentioned at the end of the article have different details with regards to more information about the arrest. We update the article to amend the information.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) apprehended a 23-year-old individual, and his companion, accused of orchestrating a cryptocurrency scam that fleeced his clients of a staggering sum of ₱100 million. The two were arrested on September 13, 2023, in Parañaque City.
Crypto King Nabbed
According to CIDG director Maj. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr., the self-proclaimed “crypto king” Vance Joshua Tamayo who is allegedly his secretary, were arrested by the operatives in front of a casino and entertainment complex along Aseana Avenue in Barangay Tambo at around 4:30 a.m.
Caramat stated that the operation, based on a complaint from a businesswoman in Makati City, targeted Tamayo, who allegedly swindled at least ₱100 million from multiple victims through a cryptocurrency scam.
The entrapment operation initially unfolded in Makati at approximately 8:35 p.m. on Tuesday but ended without success as both Tamayo and Gumangan managed to evade capture. Despite their escape, the two were eventually arrested in Parañaque City the following day.
CIDG’s investigation revealed that Tamayo had been luring victims with grandiose claims of his cryptocurrency expertise, promising substantial returns on their investments.
According to Col. Thomas Valmonte, head of CIDG’s legal division, Tamayo convinced numerous individuals to invest in his purportedly legitimate cryptocurrency venture. Tamayo lured investors with a monthly interest rate of 4.5%, which initially yielded returns.
However, he eventually cut off communication with his clients, leaving them with nothing.
In a Facebook post, a netizen Meric Mara shared that he had conversed with Tamayo, who evaded questions about his business operations. Mara believes Tamayo is involved in fraudulent activity and warns potential investors to be cautious.
“I remember talking to a guy Vance Joshua Tamayo who goes by the name “Crypto King.” It became clear that his business is fraudulent. When I asked him for details about various aspects, he either gave vague responses or didn’t answer at all. This is unfortunate, as many people have fallen victim to his schemes,” he stated.
At least ten victims have come forward, collectively reporting losses that exceed ₱100 million. Among these victims is an individual that invested ₱50 million and a woman who alleges losing ₱11 million to Tamayo’s scheme.
Furthermore, there are ongoing investigations to verify reports suggesting that Tamayo might have also victimized police officers. Both Tamayo and Gumangan are currently under the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP)- CIDG – Regional Field Unit (RFU) – National Capital Region (NCR) while the documents are being filed for their large-scale estafa case.
Crypto Scam Cases in PH
Last May, the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG) arrested five individuals, including three foreigners, in Pasig City for running a cryptocurrency scam. Their scheme involves targeting victims who have previously lost cryptocurrency, offering to help recover their funds, but instead, they steal from the victims again.
Senator Risa Hontiveros has voiced concerns about crypto scam hubs in the Philippines during a Senate hearing. She highlighted the troubling use of trafficked foreigners in these hubs as crypto scammers. Additionally, the senator previously disclosed a significant human trafficking operation that preyed on Filipinos seeking overseas employment, coercing them into working as scammers in Myanmar and Cambodia.
Furthermore, a purported cryptocurrency scheme managed to defraud approximately 1,000 victims via an unregistered online investment platform that offered lucrative investment returns. Regrettably, those who fell victim to this scam have disclosed their inability to retrieve their invested funds, as the operators of the platform have mysteriously vanished.
Last year, two more individuals involved in a multi-million peso investment scam that utilized cryptocurrencies were apprehended by the police. The individuals defrauded numerous victims by promising substantial returns on investments. The scam involved soliciting investments in a cryptocurrency scheme that ultimately turned out to be fraudulent.
State of Crypto in PH
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently the main entity flagging cryptocurrency or digital asset-related scams. However, the Commission is seeking specific legislation to allow it to flag entities for other reasons besides violating the Securities Regulation Code.
Moreover, the SEC clarified the classification of crypto as securities in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act (FCPA) is not final and currently still in the drafting stage.
In addition, the SEC clarified that the classification of cryptocurrencies as securities in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act (FCPA) is not final and is still under development. Recently, SEC Commissioner Kelvin Lester Lee stated that the Commission’s cryptocurrency regulation has been renamed the “Digital Asset Security Service Providers Rules.”
Further, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas also urged the Senate to draft legislation that specifically addresses digital assets, including cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), in order to safeguard consumers.
A recent study conducted by ConsenSys and YouGov found that the primary obstacle for Filipinos considering entering the cryptocurrency space is the fear of scams. While the perception of volatility is a common barrier globally and in Asia, the Philippines stands out with its heightened concern regarding scams.
This content was originally published here.