Cybercriminals who defraud and steal money from bank customers will be arrested, prosecuted and jailed. So said the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) through its president Arnulfo Veloso in announcing the imminent signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Justice (DOJ). He said, “We are going to find you (the cybercriminals) and we are going to lock you up. You will pay for your crimes.
The BAP is also teaming up with Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) in its #CYBERSECURITYX campaign, with the aim of raising public awareness and being vigilant in thwarting money mules and phishing.
A money mule is “someone who transfers or moves illegally acquired money on behalf of someone else,” and criminals use money mules to help launder the proceeds of scams into online, as well as more serious crimes such as human trafficking and drug trafficking. Phishing is “the fraudulent practice of sending e-mails claiming to be from reputable companies in order to trick individuals into revealing personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.”
Cybercrimes have intensified since the phenomenal acceleration in the use of digital platforms induced by the lockdowns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. Purchases of essential household groceries, medicines and hot meals, as well as the payment of utility bills are now mostly done through digital channels. Therefore, Bangko Sentral has stepped up its financial education and inclusion campaign to ensure that the broadest segments of bank customers are properly protected and that the integrity of bank transactions is preserved.
In addition to focusing on educating citizens, the BAP-DOJ program will also improve the capacities of law enforcement and prosecutors. More fundamentally, there are gaping holes in the correct identification of victims and apparent perpetrators. Thus, bottlenecks in criminal prosecution will be eliminated. Citizens will be trained and helped to complete police reports that could be dealt with quickly. When the information provided is complete and accurate, it would be easier to file complaints that will go to the criminal justice system.
The BAP is also calling for the swift enactment of the Law on the Regulation of Bank Accounts and Electronic Wallets. Under House Bill 9615, those convicted of phishing will be jailed for six to 12 years and fines ranging from 200,000 to 500,000 pesos. It is also launching an anti-scam campaign on social media to improve the level of awareness of the banking public on cybersecurity and cybersecurity.
This is all the more necessary as the Philippines is considered a cybercrime hotspot, given the volume and prevalence of illicit activities. Although not explicitly mentioned by the BAP, the private sector in general, especially the major Internet service providers, plays a crucial role in stemming the tide of cybercrime, as they are mainly involved in monitoring, custody and the use of evidence stored in the information superhighway. .
Other key law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation also need to improve their ability to prevent cybercrime and enforce laws that punish cybercriminals.
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