PNP warns public vs. ‘online love scam’

MANILA The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday advised the public anew to be wary of dealing with people whom they only met online.

PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde made the statement after the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) busted an online dating syndicate that defrauded an OFW of PHP600,000 through a pseudo 'online love matching scheme'.

He added that seven members of the syndicate were arrested by ACG and Quezon City Police District (QCPD) operatives in an entrapment operation in Quezon City.

Nabbed were Angelica Calanog, 20; Richelle Casilla, 32; Jeanly Shane Boyore, 18; Juvy Ann Capino, 19; Arjay Balansayo, 27; John Luis Patrick Acol, 19; and Jim Anthony Besonia, 18

Albayalde said the online scam started when the victim Frederick Egea, 23, sent a friend request to Calanog on Facebook.

OFW ito. Nag-friend siya ng somebody in the Facebook and then nagka relationship online. Pinapadalhan niya ng pera (He is an OFW. He added somebody as a friend on Facebook and they had an online relationship. He sent her money amounting to PHP600,000). When he came to file a complaint, hindi lang isang tao ang involved (there is more than one person involved). Hindi pa sila nagkikita personally (They haven't met personally). Until such time na nagkaroon ng (that the police conducted) operations. Yung PHP600,000, hindi namanone-time yun (The amount of PHP600,000 was not given one-time). Around two years. Yung nambibiktima are halo yan (The perpetrators are mixed). Pretends to be a woman, he told reporters during the press briefing on Monday.

Actually yung (the) report on the romance scam, ito ay (this is) increasing. Maraming nabibiktima rito (Many have fallen prey to this scam). Some people believe that they are having a relationship with a foreigner and sometimes, it's too good to be true, he noted.

He added that these online predators are using fake accounts in searching for victims.

Tingnan ilan friends (Check how many friends they have), when it was created. Kung bago lang na-create, iilan lang friends magduda na(have doubts). Kapag nagpapadala ng pera yung sinasabi pang ospital (When they are ask for money claiming it is for hospital expenses) or personal needs, try to verify muna (first). Why should you send money na hindi mo pa nakikita (when you haven't met him/her) personally? Albayalde said.

Albayalde added that the advancement in technology has also provided methods for criminals to prey on unsuspecting victims noting that the threat of online scams is real.

Halos kung ilang millions of people nae-engage sa social media. Kaya napaka-serious nitong hacking. Very profitable na ito at napakahirap mahuli ang mga suspek. Ang dami ng nabiktima na na-hack yung credit card, nauubos laman ng banko. Yung nagbabangkoonline. (Millions of people are on social media. That is why hacking is a serious problem. This is very profitable and the suspects are hard to catch. There are those who had their credit card hacked and their money in their bank accounts gone, especially those who are using online banking), he added.

While admitting that it is hard to control these kinds of crime, the PNP chief advised the public to ask for assistance from the ACG should they become victims of these scams.

Some precautionary measures to secure online accounts include having a strong and unique password, activating firewall and anti-virus to protect computer systems from intruders and look closely into one's background before accepting an online friend request. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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