MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) will assist the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in the campaign against illegal online lotteries, as ordered by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. on Tuesday.
Abalos' directive came after the PCSO filed charges charges against four firms allegedly engaged in unauthorized online lottery operations.
The DILG chief vowed to go after cybercriminals who are raking in billions of pesos in earnings while depriving the poor of much-needed assistance.
“We are one with the PCSO in its desire to provide help, especially medical assistance, to as many poor people as possible. But they can’t fulfill the mandate if there are evil people who are stealing the agency’s revenues using their technological know-how. Kailangang pagbayaran ng mga kriminal na ito ang kailang masasamang gawain. Kailangang pagsisihan nila ang kanilang ginawa (These criminals must pay for their illegal deeds, they must repent for what they have done),” he said in a statement.
PCSO General Manager Mel Robles on Monday led the filing of the charges for usurpation of authority and violations of Republic Act 1169 (Act Providing for Charity Sweepstakes Horse Races and Lotteries) and Presidential Decree 1602 (illegal gambling) against Eplayment Corporation, Paymero Technologies Limited, GlobalComRCI International, and Blockchain Smart-Tech Co.I.T. Consultancy before the Mandaluyong City Prosecutor's Office.
Robles said the criminal complaints were prompted by an investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation, which revealed that the four groups were responsible for the ownership, operation, and administration of illegal online lottery games Pakilotto and Surelotto.
The investigation discovered that Eplayment, which operated under the now-defunct website Pakilotto, was soliciting and accepting bets from the public at an inflated price of PHP30 per ticket, a 50-percent markup compared to the standard PHP20 lotto ticket.
Surelotto, a similar mobile app, sold tickets online for PHP25, or 25 percent higher than the regular price.
Prizes of smaller denominations are allegedly directly deposited into the winner's registered bank account, while jackpot prizes require winners to visit the Surelotto office in person.
GlobalComRCI and Blockchain Smart-Tech entered into an agreement with Eplayment and technology provider Paymero, using the latter's software for processing payments and managing financial account information.
Although GlobalComRCI and Blockchain Smart-Tech were considered facilitators, they reportedly established a revenue-sharing arrangement.
Robles said the companies also reportedly misused the PCSO's name, logo and various lottery games, soliciting and accepting bets from the public through their unauthorized mobile applications and websites. (PNA)