Philippines warns against casino loan sharks

Authorities in the Philippines have warned the public to be aware of loan sharks preying on people in casinos, the Philippine News Agency reports.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) says individuals are approaching tourists with the offer to lend gambling money, but will detain them if they fail to immediately pay back the borrowed amount.

The NBI urged tourists to approach hotel staff and security for help.

The warning followed a case in which five Chinese nationals and a Filipino-Chinese allegedly abducted three of their compatriots and held them against their will in a hotel room in Paranaque City, the PNA reports.

The NBI said that the victims, all males and aged around 40 to 50 years old, were being asked to pay PHP7 million, which represents the principal and interest of a casino loan for PHP1.5 million.

The Philippines has grappled with image problems that it is not a safe destination, with kidnapping gangs targeting wealthy foreigners.

Earlier this year, the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group reported that the number of cases rose by 3 percent in 2018 to 69. Of those, 27 were foreign and 42 Filipinos. The majority of the foreigners were Chinese.