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POGOs shift to love scams, other fraud schemes

Ranier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
POGOs shift to love scams, other fraud schemes
“We have this working theory in the CICC that during the time of the pandemic, when the POGOs saw a drop in their income, some of them turned themselves into scam hubs. Because they already have the facilities for that, they already have the computers, they have the people for that,” Rojun Hosillos, director of the CICC Cybercrime Investigation Office said.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) is bracing for the continued proliferation of online scams with the rise of the so-called scam hubs, which are allegedly former Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO).

“We have this working theory in the CICC that during the time of the pandemic, when the POGOs saw a drop in their income, some of them turned themselves into scam hubs. Because they already have the facilities for that, they already have the computers, they have the people for that,” Rojun Hosillos, director of the CICC Cybercrime Investigation Office said.

In the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum tackling online scams this Christmas season, Hosillos also bared that the CICC learned that the scam hubs they were raiding or monitoring appeared to be well-equipped, fully manned, and boast of using the latest technology in cyber hacking and monitoring.

He added that they are already monitoring scam hubs that are being run by Filipinos and not only foreigners.

“The future of our cybercrime fight in the CICC, is that we will not just be dealing with foreigners, we will soon be dealing with organized crime groups run by Filipinos perpetrating cybercrime,” Hosillos said.

He said cybercrime has become a sunrise industry for cyber criminals and online scammers, with hundreds of millions extracted by unscrupulous cyberscammers from unsuspecting or unwary victims.

Citing figures gathered by the CICC, Hosillos said that in 2021, approximately $6 trillion had been pocketed by the world’s cybercriminals and online fraud operators.

“Worldwide, profit on cybercrime every year, is approximately $1 trillion. In the Philippines, an estimated P1 billion was lost by netizens (from online scammers),” Hosillos said.

“It is scary,” he admitted.

The CICC has partnered with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), National Privacy Commission, National Telecommunications Commission and private sector group Scam Watch Pilipinas for their Holiday Watch PH campaign this Christmas season to urge the public to be wary of the “12 Scams of Christmas.”

The 12 scams identified are fake shipping or delivery notification scam, fake online charity scam, fake shopping websites, fake online sellers, fake free trial scams, fake Christmas gift card scam, fake tech support scam, fake crypto investment scam, fake relative/friend scam, dating scam, foreign exchange investment scam and loan scam.

Online sellers registry

The enactment of Republic Act 11967 or the Internet Transactions Act of 2023 signed into law by President Marcos on Dec. 5 will mandate the creation of a registry of all the country’s online merchants and sellers, according to lawyer Fhillip Sawali, director of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau.

“It will enforce the registration of those doing online commerce whether online merchants or digital platforms and e-marketplaces. They will compel the registration of those entities,” Sawali said in the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum yesterday.

“We can participate in the consultations and public dialogues for the crafting of the IRR. The E-Commerce Bureau will be set up in six months’ time,” he added.

He said the DTI was cognizant of the fact that a lot of commerce now taking place was done online or on cyberspace.

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