MANILA - Five people were arrested and 90 credit and debit cards were seized in a raid on the house of a 65-year-old woman believed by authorities to have pioneered the credit card scam in the country, according to the National Bureau of Investigation.
The leader of the credit card syndicate was identified as Leticia Zapata Laririt, the owner of the house that was raided in Heroes Hills subdivision in Quezon City.
The syndicate has been operating for more than 20 years, said Vic Lorenzo, executive officer of the NBI Cyber Crime Division.
"Laririt could have pioneered the credit scam in the country based on the long years of their racket that enabled her and her family to buy real properties," Lorenzo said in an interview.
He said the modus operandi of Laririt's syndicate was similar to identity theft.
In the charges filed against the suspects, the NBI said stolen credit cards, both local and international, particularly American Express, were sold to the syndicate by postal couriers.
The NBI said the syndicate was not only able to activate credit cards but it could also duplicate them.
"The stolen cards could be renewed or new cards could be activated. The syndicate had mastered the method and had earned millions from the scam," Lorenzo said.
Also arrested in the raid were Salde Deinlay, Lozano Sabrina, Lacandalo Eric Vincent, Ma. Cecilia Bautista and Archie Lou Abacan.
Lorenzo said Laririt's modus operandi was to buy stolen credit cards that were yet to be activated.