Online scams top list of 2023 cybercrimes
In a statement, PLDT president and CEO Alfredo Panlilio said the telco company supports the passage of House Bill (HB) 7393 and Senate Bill (SB) 2039 seeking to imprison and penalize money mules.

BW / File
Manila, Philippines — More than half of cybercrimes documented this year were online scams, data from the police Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) showed.

Based on the data, 19,884 cybercrimes were recorded from Jan. 1 to Dec. 7 this year, of which 11,071 cases or 55.67 percent represented online scams.

A far second is illegal access in relation to Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Law, which has 3,181 cases or 15.99 percent

There were 1,536 computer-related identity theft cases, which comprised 7.72 percent of the total cybercrimes documented.

Online libel is at 6.74 percent representing 1,342 cases and ATM/credit card fraud at 5.24 percent or 1,043 cases.

The other cybercrimes documented are online threats, data interference, anti-photo and video voyeurism, unjust vexation and computer-related fraud, totaling 1,711 cases.

Col. Jay Guillermo, ACG cyber response unit head, yesterday told dzBB that scammers have shifted to internet-connected applications with the passage of Republic Act 11934, or the SIM Card Registration Act.

Guillermo warned the people, especially those with online bank accounts, not to be duped by callers or by messages purportedly coming from bank employees requesting for bank information.

He said anyone facing potential fraud should call the attention of their banks or law enforcement authorities.

Meanwhile, the Cybercrime Investigating and Coordinating Center (CICC) said it is ready to go after erring internet social media giants like Facebook, Instagram and X if they are found harboring rogue online sellers and hucksters that victimize millions of Filipino online shoppers and netizens, with the enforcement of Republic Act 11967 or the Internet Transactions Act of 2023 earlier this month.

Information and Communications Undersecretary and CICC executive director Alexander Ramos said the signing into law of RA 11967 provided ammunition to pin down internet tech giants that coddle online scammers.

“It now enables us to seek action towards not only the platforms but rather anybody doing online business can be held accountable for having something wrong with their product or non-delivery of their products,” Ramos said in a virtual interview on Dateline Philippine on ANC.

“As far as the platforms are concerned, they’re doing a lot of business (here) yet they lack the necessary safety nets for local consumers,” Ramos pointed out. “With this new law, I think we have enough basis to file potential charges against them.”

He added, “If you continue to allow certain accounts that promote false products or fake accounts that are victimizing people, they should not be harboring them. They should weed them out, they should have certain technologies to automatically detect this.” Ramos said that while these giants are operating internationally, they should make adjustments in their platforms compliant with the specific laws of each country where they have presence.

“It may differ from one country to another. But since they have a big following or consumer base in the country, then they should adhere to our local laws,” Ramos stressed.

“We have this new law that protects consumers now. I think now we can enforce this thing. We can use this against them,” he added.

Earlier, Presidential Anti Organized Crime Commission executive director, retired police general Gilbert Cruz, bared that pre-registered subscriber identity module (SIM) cards are being sold brazenly on Facebook Marketplace and other e-commerce platforms despite the enactment of SIM Card Registration Law that prohibits such activities.

Ramos, meanwhile, also said that the internet social media tech giants should have taken the initiative from the start to institute safeguards against online scams instead of tolerating such activities.

“We would presume, since right now the government is not taxing them, at least, protecting, providing protection to your clients is a must, and important,” Ramos pointed out.

“In other countries, I think they are being penalized already,” he noted.

Ramos said internet social media giants are willing to take action against persistent online scams and fraud, “but their mode of action is not that immediate.” — Rainier Allan Ronda