12 persons arrested for 'illegal' acquisition of SIM cards with e-wallet accounts -- NBI

A Malaysian and 11 Filipinos have been arrested in Manila for alleged illegal acquisition of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards with e-wallet accounts for use by online casino loaders.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Nov. 19, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) identified those arrested as Malaysian Lau Wen Xiang and Filipinos Aldwin Villena Canon, RJ Vincnet Abdulhamid, Alkhaizar Sahali Jambiran, Rayan Panayam Aposol, Aira May Sahali Jambiran, Sherwin Dave Cahanap Cruz, Kier John Salazar Parong, Jasper Philander Viscayno, Datu Jonathan Tasil Mama, Jonalou Tayomora Salazar, and Almoner Ladjahali Ladja.

The NBI said they were arrested in a building in Manila during an operation conducted by operatives of the NBI’s Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division (NBI-AOTCD) last Nov. 10.

It said that seized inside the building were 13 units of desktop computers, 40 pieces of Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) modems used as text blasters, 57 mobile phones, a laptop, a monitor, and approximately 50,000 pieces of SIM cards.

Those arrested were charged before the Manila City Prosecutor's Office with violations of Section 9 (c), (d), and (e) of Republic Act (RA) 8484, the Access Devices Act of 1998; illegal access and computer-related forgery under Section 4(a)(1) and 4(b)(1)(i), respectively, of RA 10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012; and Section 11(e) of RA 11934, the SIM Card Registration Act of 2020.

The NBI said the operation was conducted based on information from a complainant who disclosed that “certain individuals from a Facebook group were looking for e-wallet account holders that have a verified account status and with a P500,000 limit who are willing to have their accounts ‘rented.’”

“Complainant also revealed that the (e-wallet) accounts would no longer be used by the account holders but would be given to the said individuals as casino loaders,” it said. 

“The owners of the SIM cards were offered P2,000 as payment and P2,000 for the succeeding months as rental fee,” it added.

Prior to the operation, the NBI said that the complainant was asked to act as a “poseur SIM card owner who’s willing to let her SIM card rented by the syndicate.”

It said a delivery rider, who was asked to cooperate in the NBI-AOTCD operation, delivered the SIM card to Paranaque City where the package was picked up by a woman who told agents she was only instructed to receive SIM cards and send it to their boss in Manila. 

“An undercover agent posed as delivery rider and proceeded to the said address in the City of Manila to deliver the SIM cards. Upon handing over of the package to a certain ‘Mae’ she was approached by the operatives and informed them that she was only instructed to receive the package and hand it over to the occupants of a certain unit in that building," it said. 

"'Mae' together with the operatives proceeded to the target unit and handed over the package, at this moment, the operatives entered the unit and witnessed several monitors, Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) modems commonly known as ‘text-blast machines’, and various SIM cards,” it also said.