Call center raided by cops in Cebu for selling bogus gift cards to Americans


CEBU CITY, Philippines—Police raided an outbound call center company at the Cebu Business Park in Cebu City Thursday on suspicion that it duped Americans into buying bogus gift cards.

But Glenn Villariza, lawyer of Interface Techno-Phil Inc. located on the second floor of Keppel Building, denied the company was engaged in illegal activity. “As far as I know, their operation was legal,” he said.

Operatives of the Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) seized more than 300 computers and invited for questioning almost 100 employees who were later released.

Senior Inspector Michael Vertudazo, chief of ACG in Central Visayas, said the owners and officers of the call center company, which had been operating for three years, would be charged with violation of Republic Act 8484, an act regulating the issuance and use of access devices and prohibiting fraudulent acts.

The raid was done on the strength of a search warrant issued by Judge Ramon Daomilas Jr. of Regional Trial Court Branch 11.

Vertudazo, chief of ACG in Central Visayas, said the operation stemmed from the tip received by five employees of the company that Interface Techno-Phil was duping their customers.

Two of these employees signed an affidavit that convinced the judge to issue a search warrant, said Vertudazo.

He said the call center agents would call customers in the US and ask them to buy a registration card, which would cost $2.99 excluding processing fees in exchange for $100 gift card vouchers for all gasoline stations in the US, gift cards exclusive for Wallmark Grocery, and other freebies.

After the customers bought the cards through credit cards, the call center agents would no longer communicate with them.

During questioning, some agents complained that they only received P150 a day in wage. Regular employees allegedly didn’t have SSS and Pag-Ibig coverage.

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