Philippine authorities arrest 43 accused of running ring selling cybersex to global clients

Philippine authorities arrested 43 suspected members of a syndicate that runs a lucrative online cybersex operation catering to clients worldwide, officials said Thursday.

National Bureau of Investigation agents arrested the 43 men and women and seized 115 computer sets late Wednesday at three locations fronting as Internet cafes in Dinalupihan town in Bataan province west of Manila, the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission said.

The syndicate operated a website at which clients could ask women to perform lewd acts for a fee, the commission said.

Easy Internet access, a relatively lower risk of arrest and big financial gains have caused online crimes to flourish in countries such as the Philippines, which has been struggling to build a capability to deal with cybercrimes.

President Benigno Aquino III signed a law in 2012 that aimed to combat Internet crimes such as hacking, identity theft, spamming, cybersex, extortion and online child pornography. It was suspended due to legal challenges questioning whether some provisions violated civil liberties, but enforcement of the law resumed in February.

In May, police arrested 58 suspected members of online extortion syndicates that duped hundreds of victims worldwide into exposing themselves in front of webcams or engaging in lewd chats, including a Scottish teenager who committed suicide after being blackmailed.