Manila: The Philippines immigration authorities last Monday arrested 17 Chinese, including 15 women, for swindling their fellow countrymen in Makati City.

Using the internet, the suspects, who act as virtual call centre agents, were able to convince their victims to wire money to certain bank accounts, Immigrations Commissioner Ricardo David Jr said.

David said a day-long operation was conducted at the Manhattan Square compound along San Agustin Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City, to nab the suspects who operated from their condominium units.

Earlier, the Chinese embassy had sought the help of the immigration department in capturing the suspects who had fled to Manila to evade arrest by Chinese authorities.

“All of them could not present their passports and travel documents, thus we will deport them for being undocumented and overstaying aliens,” David said.

The arrest was among the few carried out by the Philippines authorities over the past year.

In 2012, 53 Chinese and Taiwanese, involved in a similar scandal, were arrested in Davao City.

Antonette Mangrobang, a lawyer, said the operation was conducted after keeping an intense watch on the safe houses of the suspects for several days.

Mangrobang said the foreigners were charged with violating the immigration law and will be deported.

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry has warned entrepreneurs on the increasing number of cases involving cyber-crimes.

Reports said hackers usually victimise on the importers and exporters, it involved transactions of Filipino importers and Chinese suppliers.

Trade department officials said cases of cyber-hacking usually divert Filipino importers’ payments to the hacker’s bank account.

The Philippines last year had passed a law against cyber-crimes, however, the law was questioned by civil liberties groups and internet activists as it could curb certain freedoms including that of free expression.