Sources outside the Philippines may be behind several personalized text scams or unsolicited text messages received by local subscribers, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said Sunday.
DICT Undersecretary Alexander Ramos said they are now coordinating with their international counterparts to determine if they have recordings leading to the IP address of the destination servers involved in the text scams.
“We now have leads where these text scams are actually happening. Our theory is that the source is not local. It just looks like the system looks automated,” he said in a Super Radyo dzBB interview,
“This is not only happening in the Philippines, but in other countries as well. So, it needs a bigger effort and wider investigation to identify these destination sites,” he added.
Ramos, who is also the Executive Director of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), said the National Privacy Commission had already investigated whether there were servers that got hacked but found nothing.
He said they are now also looking into those buying SIM cards in bulk to trace where the text spams were coming from.
“That’s one of the ways to trace to whom the telco companies sold the SIM cards, and for them to produce the list of those individuals or dealers. That will be one of our leads in determining where these SIM cards are being used,” he said.
During a Senate hearing on Thursday, NPC deputy commissioner Leandro Aguirre said information being used by text scammers may have been sourced from scrapped or harvested data from online payments and messaging applications.
Earlier, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) also directed telecommunication firms to accelerate the process of blocking SIM cards that are being used to perpetrate fraudulent activities and further enhance the messaging reach of their respective public information campaigns regarding the “new variants” of the text scams.
Ramos said they are conducting a parallel investigation into the arrested of Chinese and South Koreans who were allegedly involved in the proliferation of text scams in the Philippines.
“Their victims are also their own countrymen. There is a parallel investigation, but that’s a different scheme or technique,” he added.
Five South Koreans who were allegedly members of a syndicate using text scams were recently arrested by authorities in Parañaque City. The money obtained by the suspects from the victims reached more than P1 billion.