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DOJ, banks set ‘coordinated’ crackdown on cybercriminals

INQUIRER.NET – In the wake of cyberhacking and phishing incidents that victimised many clients of the country’s two biggest banks, the banking community has vowed to intensify the crackdown against cybercriminals by teaming up with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a “collective, coordinated and strategic” response.

The Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the DOJ on February 4 to “cement the partnership” between the banking industry and the national government in the fight against cybercriminals.

The agreement is seen as crucial in this period of “heightened cyber criminality,” the association of the country’s universal banks said in a statement on Sunday.

“The (BAP) believes that all stakeholders – such as the government, the banking industry, and the Filipino public-must work together to keep Filipinos safe and make cybercriminals pay for the crimes they have committed,” the BAP said.

“Promoting cybersecurity in the banking system is a joint effort in as much as it is a core aspect of the nation’s security and the economy’s stability.”

This developed after many clients of BDO Unibank and the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines recently fell prey to cybercriminals.

From 2019 to 2021, about PHP2 billion had been lost to digital banking fraud, including hacking and phishing incidents

In the case of BDO, there was a sophisticated hacking scheme that bypassed the one-time password (OTP) security protocol of some 700 depositors, resulting in unauthorised bank withdrawals and the transfer of the stolen funds to “mule” accounts, including those transferred to Union Bank of the Philippines accounts under the name of one “Mark Nagoyo.”

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has since caught the suspects in the “Nagoyo” scam – two Nigerians and three Filipinos.

From 2019 to 2021, about PHP2 billion had been lost to digital banking fraud, including hacking and phishing incidents, based on consumer complaints lodged at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

These incidents have increased at an alarming rate during the pandemic as consumers were forced to shift to digital banking channels because of mobility restrictions. “We thank the (NBI) and the (DOJ) for their successful collaboration in holding cybercriminals accountable for what they have done. Their actions demonstrate that cybercriminals will never go unpunished for victimising the Filipino banking public and stealing their hard-earned savings,” said BAP President Jose Arnulfo Veloso, who is also president of Philippine National Bank.

President and CEO of BDO Nestor Tan assured the bank’s clients that all of their cybercrime-related concerns would be immediately addressed. BDO promised to reimburse the 700 clients affected by the “Nagoyo” scam.

“We continue to make investments and enhancements in our security systems to assure our banking clients will have a safe and secure banking experience,” Tan added.

Some teachers have also reported losing their hard-earned money deposited at Landbank to cybercriminals.

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