A Singaporean woman, Wu Yan, was rescued on Tuesday after being abducted at the lobby of the Solaire casino in Manila, Phillipines and held hostage at a nearby hotel for four days.
The 48-year-old was kidnapped by a loan shark syndicate under the guise of being escorted to another casino as she was gambling and taken to the Bayview International Towers where she was beaten and intimidated by her captors who demanded US$180,000 from her.
Police were alerted to the case by Wu Yan’s friend who received a ransom call. About 50 Phillipine police officials were put on the case and rescued Wu Yan after the casino helped to trace the taxi which was used to kidnap the woman to the Bayview International Towers.
They staked out the hotel for a whole night until they received a valuable lead the next day when a security guard reported seeing Wu Yan’s leg being dragged into an apartment. She had tried to escape from her captors but was not successful.
The police immediately busted the apartment where they found Wu Yan and 14 syndicate members, most of whom were sleeping. A total of 45 individuals were later arrested in connection to the case, comprising of 43 Chinese nationals and 2 Malaysians between the ages of 25 and 35. 15 of them were “positively identified” by Wu Yan.
The police force in the Philippines believe that the culprits belong to one of two loan shark syndicates which are said to be behind 11 similar cases that have been reported since 2015. One victim, a Chinese national, was released after paying a S$60,700 ransom, while another victim from Hong Kong escaped after she was abducted on 9 July.
The group is said to lure their victims from casinos by offering loans or by offering to escort tourists who are down on their luck to other casinos nearby. Philippines police’s anti-kidnapping group director Glenn Dumlao said to the local press:
“There’s no forcible abduction because they lure the victim by continuously offering loans. And then they will say, ‘You do not have good luck here in Solaire’ or ‘You have bad luck in City of Dreams. Let’s move to Okada (another casino), maybe you will have better luck there.’ The victim will usually follow, believing that she or he will be able to recoup (their losses)”
On tourists coming to the Phillipines to gamble, national police chief, Ronald de la Rosa, said:
“I want to make it clear that we are not anti-gambling. We are not against foreigners coming to the Philippines to gamble. But we are anti-criminals. We are especially against foreigners who will come here to commit crime. We do not tolerate that.”
Solaire, for its part, released a statement on Thursday asserting that the safety of its patrons is a priority:
“Solaire continues to closely safeguard all its patrons to ensure their safety from unscrupulous personalities and activities even as it continues to coordinate and support government authorities in the fight against criminal activities.”