The Department of Justice, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and eight more government agencies have joined efforts to catch the perpetrators behind smishing scams that victimize Filipinos into dubious investment schemes and work-from-home jobs.
“We desire to assist victims of cybercrime to the fullest and bring the culprits to justice,’’ said Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) executive director Cezar Mancao during the creation of the technical working group against ICT-enabled scams and fraud.
The group includes the National Privacy Commission (NPC), the Department of Information and Communications Technology, National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, the National Security Council, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
The group was created at an online meeting called by the NPC to prevent what Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro called a potential “privacy disaster.”
An example of smishing was when Globe Telecom reportedly sent 1.55 million messages through its network, from Nov. 11 to Nov. 21, 2021, alone.
Millions of ordinary Filipinos are targeted by smishing and text spam.
Many of them may have fallen prey to the scams.
The inter-agency group will set up a hub that will centralize complaints, including those filed with other agencies.
The CICC is developing an app and a web portal where victims can report a scam through a hotline and dedicated website. Telcos are expected to cooperate by blocking the messages.
Globe Telecom has so far blocked 1 billion messages since January. In addition, Smart Communications has blocked at least 60 web domains linked to the scam.
Mancao said the CICC would employ a triage system and refer cases to appropriate agencies for action while the DOJ Office of Cybercrime offered to facilitate coordination with international agencies to fight against global syndicates.
Meanwhile, the NPC will summon five data aggregators that were being eyed as possible conduits behind the surge in smishing and text spams over the last few weeks.
The BSP financial supervision sector agreed to strengthen fraud management among financial institutions as it also welcomed the centralization of complaints under one portal.
B The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on Friday warned the public against text messages offering bogus employment opportunities.
In an advisory, POEA chief Bernard Olalia cautioned against SMS (short message service) phishing, or smishing, in the guise of offering jobs but whose real purpose is to get personal information. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
“In smishing, text messages promising employment and high salaries are sent to trick users to click on suspicious links. These links then redirect users to fraudulent sites when clicked. These sites may steal users' personal data, introduce mobile malware, and even commit fraud,” Olalia said.
“Applicants for overseas employment are reminded to avoid clicking on suspicious links, especially those coming from services and numbers which they did not sign up for,” it added.
Olalia also advised the people to block the numbers and report smishing incidents to their telecommunications provider, the National Privacy Commission, and the National Telecommunications Commission.
“The public is also advised to be vigilant in protecting their contact information and other sensitive personal information, such as copies of their government-issued identification cards and documents, in order to avoid receiving spam and fraudulent messages, or falling victim to unlawful activities such as identity theft and cyber extortion,” it said.
PLDT on Friday said its cybersecurity team has learned that fraudsters were updating the SMS-related scams by using group chats.
Newer text spams direct customers to a group chat in WhatsApp, PLDT, and its wireless arm, Smart Communications said in a statement.
The telco said their experts believe that chat administrators are part of a syndicate "who could be locals operating in the Philippines."
PLDT said the operators claim to be representatives of a Japanese department store looking to invest here.