Smart blocks 13 million smishing messages

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
Smart blocks 13 million smishing messages
Apart from this, Smart also blacklisted nearly 200,000 SIMs involved in malicious activities, as the telco improved its coordination with authorities in preventing digital fraud.
Philstar.com / EC Toledo

MANILA, Philippines — Wireless leader Smart Communications Inc. prevented more than 13 million attempts to dupe its subscribers in the first quarter of the year, warning against the rising number of hijack profiles.

Apart from this, Smart also blacklisted nearly 200,000 SIMs involved in malicious activities, as the telco improved its coordination with authorities in preventing digital fraud.

Smart senior vice president and chief information security officer Joseph Ian Gendrano said the company is stepping up its fraud detection as cases of hijack profiles are on the rise.

A hijack profile happens when a hacker gains access to a victim’s social media account. Typically, the victim is locked out of his own account, and the hacker then reaches out to social media contacts to ask for money, usually under the guise of sickness.?

Gendrano said hackers gain access to social media accounts through phishing. As such, he asked customers to be cautious in clicking on e-mails, links and texts from unknown persons.

Further, Gendrano reminded subscribers that phishing messages employ low-quality photos and wrong grammar in their attempt to emulate legitimate institutions like banks and the government.

Also, Gendrano advised against logging in personal credentials on unfamiliar websites, warning that hackers are skilled in creating fake channels that may appear legitimate on first look.

“Data is the new oil. Cyber criminals steal personal information to defraud or use your identity to victimize people close to you. Guard your data,” Gendrano said.

Meanwhile, connectivity provider Globe Telecom Inc. reported a significant drop in the number of spam texts that it blocked in the first quarter. All in all, Globe blocked 362.8 million attempts during the period, down by 67 percent from a year ago.

Globe also observed a 74 percent decline in the number of bank-related scams that it blocked to 1.04 million, from 4.07 million.

The telco received 44 percent less customer reports on spam messages in its Stop Spam portal.

Globe chief information security officer Anton Bonifacio believes that the decline in the volume of blocked spams shows that the telco is succeeding in minimizing digital fraud.

Globe has invested at least $101.2 million for cybersecurity upgrades since 2015, including $26 million for fraud detection.

Middleman scam

The Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) of the Philippine National Police on Wednesday warned the public of another scam on social media platforms targeting online sellers.

ACG director Maj. Gen. Sidney Hernia said the modus operandi dubbed as “middleman scam” has fraudulent sellers posting items for sale on Facebook Marketplace.

Hernia said the suspects act as intermediaries between two parties in a transaction. The victims are unaware the culprits are exploiting their trust to defraud them.

One particular case resulted in the arrest of a suspect, whom the ACG identified as alias Juan, in an entrapment operation in Sampaloc, Manila last April 6.

Juan is now facing criminal complaints of estafa or swindling in relation to Republic Act 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Hernia said the victim purchased an internet modem on Facebook Marketplace from the suspect, who pretended to be a legitimate seller.

The suspect encouraged the victim to pay for the first ten modems through an e-wallet app. He then used the victim’s payment receipt to transact with the actual seller.

Hernia said the delivery was processed but the real seller cancelled the transaction after he did not receive the payment. It turned out the suspect tricked him and the buyer.

Hernia urged the public to always verify the identity of sellers and buyers they are transacting with on social media platforms and use secure payment methods.

“Communicate directly through the official contact information and avoid dealing with intermediaries or third parties who claim to facilitate the transaction,” he said. – Emmanuel Tupas, Rainier Allan Ronda

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