Press Release
September 3, 2015

Villar urges NTC: Influence TELCOS to make subscriber protection from text scams a CSR

Sen. Cynthia Villar urged the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to influence private telecommunication companies to help protect the public from falling victims to text scammers by taking part in the information drive against it. Villar said posters and newspaper ads should be supplemented with advertisement through the broadcast medium so that more people will be reached.

"If you don't have the budget, I suggest you ask the TELCOS to partner with you in coming up with TV ads exposing the modus operandi of text scammers. I am sure the information drive against text scams will be a worthwhile corporate social responsibility (CSR) project," she said.

Villar presided over the hearing of the Committee on Public Services Subcommittee "E" on Proposed Senate Resolution 974 seeking an inquiry into the proliferation of text scams and on the measures undertaken by government agencies and telecommunication companies to stop it.

"I am one of the victims of text scammers. Almost every day for the last two years, I would get complaints from people saying they received a text and they won a prize from the Villar Foundation. We have to go to extra lengths explaining to them that the text was a hoax and that we are not raffling off house and lot and money," Villar said.

Villar also recalled meeting a janitor working at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport who was tricked into paying P5,000 as fees for arranging his winnings from the Villar Foundation.

During the hearing, Villar blasted the NTC for failing to protect mobile phone subscribers from text scams despite the numerous complaints they receive.

NTC Comm. Gamaliel Cordoba admitted that after telecommunication companies succeeded in getting a temporary restraining order against the implementation of Memorandum Circular 136 issued in 2000, they were not able to push for the mandatory simcard registration.

The Nacionalista Party senator said she supports the enactment of a law that will impose the mandatory registration of prepaid sim cards and will be filing a bill on the matter. The House of Representatives has already passed its version on third reading.

"What is deplorable about text scammers is that they give people false hope while extracting from them their hard-earned money," she said.

Ronaldo Aguto, chief of the Cybercrime Division of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) told Villar that his division is working with two other NBI units, the Anti-Fraud and the Technical Intelligence Division to pursue text scammers.

Aguto said in 2012, they were able to file 28 cases; 7 in 2013; 10 in 2014; and 8 in 2015. One of the cases they filed was against the group of Roan Sia aka Mark Tan who had in their possession 50 handphones and P100 million worth of load credit.

He said text scammers are ordinary persons who know social media engineering and are usually not part of big international groups. He said they were able to convert into cash the load through TELCO's money transfer facility.

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