Some other crypto news outlets have been covering a story about an alleged crypto trafficking ring, but journalistic quality at those outlets appear to have reached a new low. In fact, this isn’t a story about crypto trafficking at all, it’s about human trafficking; a core part of the story that some of the largest outlets in the world failed to cover.

At, we’re not about cheap copypasta clickbait articles, we dive into the nitty gritty to bring you the real story. The story of how each year more than 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked across international borders. A small portion of whom are then put to work in slave camps working tirelessly to clear their debts to their owners by scamming people out of their cryptocurrency. If they refuse, they’re brutally tortured.

This is the story of how 12 Filipinos were rescued by an NGO in Thailand after being forced to work as cryptocurrency scammers for the Chinese Mafia in Myanmar.

How Does the Scam Work?

The recruiters for these Chinese Mafia rings hang out on social media and dating apps, posing as genuine people, trying to be your friend or date you. This is a technique known as Pig Butchering. The idea is that someone will befriend you and gain your trust, like feeding up a pig so that it yields more meat.

Once the relationship has enough trust gained, then the recruiters will execute their plan, they’ll give you an offer that sounds too good to be true, and now that you fully trust them, you’re more likely to comply. Just as a pig that you’ve fed for months will happily follow you with a bucket of food into a slaughterhouse. ProPublica has a fantastic article that explains Pig Butchering in more detail and how it’s used in human trafficking that’s well worth a read.

It’s no secret that cryptocurrency is skewed to the English language. Crypto is moving at an incredible pace to become multilingual, but the bulk of crypto investors speak English, meaning that being able to speak English to a good standard is a core requirement for mafias like the Chinese Mafia involved in this story. The Philippines has a fantastic reputation for speaking English, with more than 14 million people speaking it, according to one study. Combine this with the average salary of around $7,000 per year, and you’ve got the perfect cocktail for mafia recruiters.

These recruiters offer jobs that appeal to your ambitions and pay significant sums of money compared to the local average wages. In the case of the 12 Filipinos that were rescued back in November 2022, they were all offered jobs in a call center as a customer service representative or as a data encoder paying $1,000 a month.

After agreeing, they were met at the airport where they were given a boarding pass and documents all signed and stamped by officials, suggesting that officials from the immigration department were also involved in the trafficking of humans. Once the group landed in Thailand, they got into multiple different vans, took several boats, until they finally arrived at a compound in the middle of a forest.   

Philippines Bureau of Immigration Commissioner, Norman Tansingco, highlighted that passengers were given fake passes that were stamped with Manila International Airport Authority, meaning that the Mafia had its claws into airport functions, allowing these victims to be able to pass through without raising suspicion.

In a press release from the Senate of the Philippines, Senator Risa Hintiveros said that recruiters for the scam were paying immigration officials between $1,400 and $1,900 per victim that was allowed to pass through the airport without question.

The Conditions in the Camps

Once at the forest camps, they were quickly briefed on their duties and roles at the camp. They were given a script to use and a quota of people that they must scam, or face punishments. They were supplied with a computer, script, and profile picture to use. They then had to create multiple accounts on popular messaging and social media sites, such as Instagram, Tinder, Telegram, and Twitter.

If they failed to reach their daily quotas, they were subjected to abusive treatment, such as starvation, beatings, and hard labor. Those that refused to work were often stabbed to death by their handlers or sold onto other camps.

One of the 12 Filipinos rescued from these conditions, known as Rita, said: “We were given a profile picture to use. We were made to talk to clients, make friends with them, and encourage them to invest in cryptocurrency. We were told we need to trick them. It turned out our job is a scammer.”

Rita went on to say: “You can’t disobey, otherwise you’ll be put in a black room or dungeon. They also made me lift brick stones for four hours. If you don’t get whipped, you will be electrocuted. After the brick stone comes down you will be made to run. If you run slowly throw a basketball at you.”

Another rescued Filipino, known as Baby, shared images with Philippines Media outlet, PhilStar. These images show levels of abuse and torture that Baby was subjected to in the Chinese Mafia slave labor camps. 

One lucky Filipino, known as Paulo, felt like something was off before he boarded the plane. He told his recruiter that he didn’t want to continue. Telling Paulo’s story in a Press Release from November 2022, Hontiveros said: “Even without going through the immigration counter, Paulo’s passport was stamped with the official exit stamp of the BI. Someone took care of him at the airport, did not make him queue at immigration, and gave him a fake ID from WHSmith, a store in NAIA Terminal 3, to he pretended to be an employee. Paulo was suddenly afraid of the process he was being made to go through, so he told the recruiter that he would not continue.”

This same press release reveals that Baby nearly died at the hands of her Chinese owner.

Is Anything Being Done?

Senator Risa Hontiveros is a key proponent of anti-human trafficking laws in the Philippines, authoring and sponsoring the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law of 2022. She is leading the charge in ensuring that all the Philippines government agencies are firing on all cylinders to track down the ringleaders of these human trafficking groups and bring them to justice.

Hontiveros was a major part of putting an end to a case in the country known as the Pastillas scam, that involved thousands of women and children being taken by the Chinese Mafia and prostituted in POGO facilities. 

Right now, Rita, Baby, and several others that were rescued are working closely with the Cybercrime Unit to help bring their captors to justice, as well as those that recruited them. The Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BI) is also looking to clean its house, investigating those that were involved in the issuing of work permits and contracts that gave certain groups unfettered access to restricted parts of airport terminals.

Unfortunately, these groups are still active and present to this day, meaning that these horrific conditions still exist, and that more and more innocent people are being scammed out of their lives, tortured, and killed. All the time that these core issues with modern day slavery are overlooked by other crypto news outlets just to touch on the fact that there are “6” less people out there trying to scam your crypto, the longer this will go on for.

What Can I Do?

We all know someone that has been scammed and had their crypto stolen, and it sucks. Many of us get messages daily from scammers through various social media channels too. But, instead of brushing them off with rude comments, remember that they too are human, just like you. Some of them could even be messaging you from one of these slave camps in Cambodia. Offer them help. Ask them if they’re ok or if there’s anything that can be done. Then report it to your local authorities.

Remember that if someone says something that sounds a bit too good to be true, such as surefire investments, or guaranteed profits, it’s a scam. The same goes for jobs, too. If someone offers you a job that requires you to move to another country or pay large sums of money to get up and running, you could be about to fall into their trap and get trafficked.

We have to work together to end human trafficking and stop these Chinese Mafia slave labor camps. Crypto is an incredible space where everyone helps one another. Let’s use that incredible attitude and power to look out for the most vulnerable of those in our society, rather than bash the victims of human trafficking as scammers.

If you have lost money to one of these types of scams, speak up about it. If you’ve sent Bitcoin to a scammer, or any other currency for that matter, post about it or speak to your cryptocurrency exchange. Tell them about human trafficking involving the Chinese Mafia. These transactions can be traced to the point where they cash out the funds, and there’s a chance that they’ve slipped up and revealed information about themselves in the KYC process so that authorities can catch them.