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Crypto criminals in the Philippines might be facing tougher punishments if Senator Leila de Lima’s bill is reconsidered.

Bitcoin’s incredible price surge of last year has piqued the interest of both experienced and novice investors. It also attracted the attention of scammers and fraudsters that have the intent of manipulating their victims and taking advantage of their lack of knowledge regarding cryptocurrency investment.

Crypto Users Beware of Scams

Because virtual currencies aren’t managed by any authorities means that crypto users need to be extra cautious, particularly of investment pitches that seem too good to be true. Philippines-based New G Bitcoin Investment Trading turned out to be exactly this type of get rich scheme.

The pyramid scheme, conducted by Arnel and Leonady Ordonio, assured investors a 30% return paid out every15 days. With this enticing promise, the couple succeeded in scamming their victims out of a little more than $17 million, according to Inquirer.net.

The Philippines Could Instate Tougher Punishments

In an effort to prevent such scams from happening again, one of Philippine’s senators, Leila de Lima, has requested that a bill she previously submitted will be forwarded through for adoption.

The bill demands that the law enforce stricter penalties for criminals involved in cryptocurrency crimes. She is specifically calling for the punishment be applied one degree higher than the one currently established in the current Revised Penal Code (RPC), according to the Senate’s official website.

“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,” said De Lima.

“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,” she explained.

Flexible Laws Are Needed

De Lima also pointed out that the country’s criminal justice system needs to be flexible enough to be able to handle the 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, bitcoin could be used in crime cases such as:

“… 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).”

But the same can be said about fiat currencies.

The Sentences Crypto Criminals Could Face

In the Philippines, for a criminal activity to be considered as a syndicated estafa, it is required that a minimum of five people be involved. An estafa is a premeditated attempt to defraud somebody to the degree that losses are sustained on the victim’s part. But, de Lima wants to decrease this minimum number of five to two.

If her request goes through, the Ordonio’s may have to be taken to court and have justice served to them. Their sentence could be life imprisonment or even death.

“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.” added De Lima.

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