November 28, 2022

Nine government agencies have created a task force that will combat investment and online scams that have proliferated when the Covid-19 pandemic was declared two years ago.
With the aim of empowering consumers and achieve a scam-free region, Securities and Exchange Commission-Cordillera Director Regina Cajucom-de Guzman said the task force is tasked to come up with a streamlined referral system for suspected investment and online scams, knowledge sharing with agencies on how to identify the kind of fraud committed, and case build-up, among others.
The task force also holds symposia, caravans, seminars, and road shows to heighten awareness on consumer rights and knowledge about cybercrimes, including human trafficking done via the Internet.
With the heightened use of the Internet because of restricted mobility, Police Regional Office Anti Cyber Crime Unit Deputy head Lt/Col. Maria Teresa Pucay said various police stations in the region have been receiving numerous complaints of fraud committed online such as phishing, bogus sale of items, harassment of borrowers availing of loans offered via the Internet, and bogus accommodation facilities, among others.
Other members of the task force such as the SEC, Department of Trade and Industry, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, National Telecommunications Commission, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas are also receiving complaints about consumers being duped into investing in securities; of unidentified people gaining access into their e-wallet or bank accounts, unauthorized use of credit card; identity theft; and undelivered items bought online.
De Guzman said the best way to prevent these scams from happening is to educate and empower the public on how to detect potential fraud, inform them about their rights as consumers, and what to do in case they become a victim.
She said fraud continues to be committed as those who become victims refuse to file a formal complaint usually because of pride as many victims are professionals who are supposed to be more knowledgeable about these schemes on account of their educational and financial background.
“May pride factor pa rin. Pero hindi tama na pakinabangan ng iba ang perang pinaghirapan mo,” de Guzman said.
Others also become repeat victims when the person or group they are transacting with give them hope of recovering their investment, but end up unable to and lose more money as a result.
She said the cycle continues as those involved in these schemes only change the name of their company but they actually apply the same modus.
“If it is too good to be true, then it must be false,” de Guzman said reiterating that consumers should be on guard, especially when they are talked into promises that are not even offered by legitimate companies offering securities.
M/Sgt. Bonigil Marcelino of the CIDG said that as of Nov. 15, the CIDG has filed 58 cases involving five companies selling securities. The total amount of money invested in these companies reached P11,988,960.
For credit cards and bank accounts, BSP Bank Officer II Rodora Teresa Openiano said account holders must never disclose their personal circumstances including their pin code as banks will never ask this information from them.
Bank account holders should verify with the bank itself before proceeding with any transaction.
The PRO-Cor added, those who receive messages containing URL links should not click these links as this could give them access to personal information.
Lilibeth Cosi of the NTC also advised that those receiving text messages with URL links to immediately block the number and report to the NTC for permanent blocking of the SIM card used. – Rimaliza A. Opina