If Senator Leila de Lima has her way, crypto criminals in the Philippines will be facing tougher punishments for their crimes.
Bitcoin’s fantastic price rise last year prompted interest from both seasoned and novice investors. It also garnered the attention of scam artists and fraudsters focused on taking advantage of their victims’ naivete with regard to investing in cryptocurrencies.
If it Sounds too Good to be True…
The fact that digital currencies aren’t governed by any authorities means that crypto enthusiasts need to be extra vigilant, especially of investment opportunities that appear more like get-rich-quick schemes. This is exactly what Philippines-based New G Bitcoin Investment Trading turned out to be.
According to Inquirer.net, the pyramid scheme, run by Arnel and Leonady Ordonio, guaranteed investors a 30% return paid out every 15 days. With this tempting promise, the husband-and-wife team managed to scam their victims out of just over $17 million.
The Philippines Could Have Tougher Punishment in Place
In a bid to prevent this from happening again, one of the Philippine’s opposition senators, Leila de Lima, has requested that her previously submitted bill be pushed through for adoption. According to the Senate’s official website, the bill asks that the law impose harsher punishment for criminals involved in cryptocurrency crimes. She is specifically requesting that the punishment meted out be one degree higher than that set out in the current Revised Penal Code (RPC).
De Lima explained:
I hope that this occurrence will push my esteemed colleagues in the Senate to take my proposed bill seriously and help pass it into law soon. Knowing that virtual currency resembles money, and that the possibilities in using it are endless, higher penalty for its use on illegal activities is necessary.
She added that:
… as legislators, we should not allow these kinds of crimes to go unnoticed and let the perpetrators easily get away with their evil schemes while fooling more people.
Laws Should be Able to Change
De Lima went on to advise that the country’s criminal justice system needs to be flexible enough to adjust to changes in technology:
As I’ve mentioned before, our penal laws must adapt with the changing times and our criminal justice system must come prepared in the event like this.
According to de Lima, examples of Bitcoin crime could include cases where:
… unscrupulous individuals entice unsuspecting people to purchase fake bitcoins, sending a virtual currency as payment for child pornography, or a public officer agreeing to perform an act in consideration of payment in bitcoins (direct bribery).
These crimes can also be facilitated by use of traditional fiat currency though #justsaying.
What Crypto Criminals Could Face
In the country, in order for criminal activity to be classified as a syndicated estafa, there needs to be a minimum of five people involved. An estafa is a premeditated attempt to defraud someone to the extent that they suffer a loss. However, de Lima wants to change this minimum number from five to two.
If successful, the Ordonio’s may be liable to face the full might of the new law. Punishment could be life imprisonment or even death. De Lima added:
No matter how small or big a group, same punishment must be given. It should never be easy to escape after stealing the hard-earned money of other people.
What do you think of the Philippines Senate passing laws for tougher punishment for crypto-related crime? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, William Hotz/Baltimore Sun, Shutterstock