Anti-cybercrime group busts vloggers, social media influencers for viral videos defacing banknotes

Anti-cybercrime group busts vloggers, social media influencers for viral videos defacing banknotes
This file photo taken on November 21, 2019 shows the logo of the social media video sharing app Tiktok displayed on a tablet screen in Paris.
AFP / Lionel Bonaventure

MANILA, Philippines — The Anti-Cybercrime Group of the Philippine National Police announced the filing of complaints against one foreign social media influencer and four other vloggers at the Hall of Justice in Quezon City.

In a statement, Police Brig. Gen. Joel Doria, acting director of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group said that the unit's cyber patrolling found Facebook and TikTok videos of vloggers tearing banknotes in half and asking random passersby for help as part of what they claimed was a social experiment.

“Let this serve as a warning to all media influencers or vloggers to be mindful of the content that you post in social media. Having numerous followers and viewers does not guarantee that you are free to violate any laws of the land," Doria said.

FROM INTERAKSYON: Longer wallets needed? Eyebrows raised over BSP guidelines for new polymer bills

To recall, on August 12, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas requested the technical assistance of the ACG to monitor the activities of the social media accounts of the suspects:

  • Syrian national Samer Ousta also known as “ForeignGerms and Habibi Sami”  
  • Arnold Galentes Rogero also known as “Cholo TV”; 
  • Carl Romulo Miclat Quion also known as “carlquion”; 
  • Ritchard Pinero Eramel also known as “ekongyahoo.com”; 
  • and Joel Espinosa Mallanao  a.k.a “qyuarfheerzzchyam”

Per reports, Rogero was seen stapling several banknotes as part of a basketball fun-shoot game.

Quion recorded himself poking a hole into a one-thousand-peso bill as part of a magic trick, while Eramel posted Facebook and Tiktok videos of himself using a five-hundred-peso bill to wipe off dirt from his shoes and crumpling each bill and throwing it on the street’s pavement.

One Joel Espinosa Mallanao, known online by his reported username “qyuarfheerzzchyam” was also filmed defacing a fifty-peso-bill legal tender and using it as a funnel to transfer petroleum products, the PNP-ACG said in its report.

According to the PNP-ACG, the suspects will be facing charges for violations of Defacement, Mutilation, Tearing, Burning or destruction of Central Bank Notes and Unlawful Use of Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances.

RELATED: BSP says folded polymer banknotes still valid for payment

PNP cries foul over digital disinformation 

Earlier Thursday, the PNP also slammed false information circulating in social media sites, calling these a modus operandi posed by criminal gangs to spread chaos.

Police Gen. Rodolfo Azurin, chief of the Philippine National Police, said he issued a directive for the PNP-ACG to intensify monitoring against online disinformation. “I call the attention of our public to be more mindful of what we are posting in our social media sites and refrain from spreading unverified information from unknown sources that may lead to public disturbance, panic, and confusion," Azurin said.

"The spread of fake news on the Internet is a danger to all of us because it has an impact on the way we filter all the information we found and read on social media. It is a serious problem that should be the concern of our society, especially for the misleading resources and content found online, which makes it impossible for the people to distinguish what is real and what is not," the ACG said in a security bulletin earlier.

"Some fake news websites use website spoofing, structured to make visitors believe that they are visiting trusted sources on the internet as fictitious articles deliberately fabricated to deceive readers, generally with the goal of profiting through clickbait."

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