As cybercriminals become more daring with their devious schemes, we should always remain vigilant to avoid falling victim to scams.
Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation recently arrested four suspects allegedly engaged in a GCash scam during separate operations in Manila and Quezon City.
The suspects told authorities they were selling GCash accounts to their victims for use in online casinos and Philippine offshore gaming operators or POGOs operated by Taiwanese and Chinese nationals.
The suspects said they would buy GCash accounts for P450 then sell these for P550 through online platforms Facebook and Messenger.
The suspects are being held on charges of violating Republic Act 8464 or the Access Devices Regulation Act.
In December 2022, the Anti-Money Laundering Council—the Philippines’ sole financial intelligence unit—revealed that suspicious transactions involving phishing and hacking in the country were on a steady rise.
Over the past decade, these transactions amounted to P16.4 billion, according to AMLC data.
In a report on phishing and hacking last year, AMLC noted “the number of STRs [suspicious transaction reports] is generally increasing, and there is a significant surge in 2019… This was followed by an abrupt increase in 2021.”
In 2021, 64 percent of the total or 13,116 STRs were again reported by electronic money issuers due to complaints pertaining to account takeover that involved customers victimized by phishing through various means, such as calls, SMS, e-mails, phishing links, fake websites, other fake pages on social media platforms, chat via an e-commerce platform app, stolen phones, and other unknown means initiated by perpetrators.
This is alarming, especially since more people continue to rely on digital transactions these days, using their credit cards or e-wallets, such as GCash, as a mode of payment.
With safety and security as a top priority, GCash recently rolled out ‘DoubleSafe,’ a game-changing security feature to safeguard its users from account takeovers.
According to GCash, DoubleSafe strengthens the security of its 76 million users as it prevents unauthorized account access.
The company said that before DoubleSafe, GCash already required two levels of authentication or 2-Factor Authentication.
The first level of security is the OTP (One-time PIN), a unique number combination sent only to the user’s mobile number.
The second level of authentication is the MPIN (Mobile PIN) which is a 4-digit passcode that only the customer or GCash owner should know.
With DoubleSafe, GCash now requires an additional authentication which is facial recognition.
This means, even if a user inadvertently shares their MPIN and OTP with fraudsters, their account cannot be accessed from another device without scanning the owner’s face—ultimately preventing account takeovers.
Beyond this security feature, GCash is also closely working with the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) in going after fraudsters and scammers.
This was formalized by the signing of a memorandum of agreement with PNP-ACG in 2022.
According to GCash Head of Fraud Management Miguel Geronilla: “GCash is one with the PNP-ACG in making sure that these cybercriminals are put behind bars while we continue to remind the public on how to safeguard their accounts.
“Together with the authorities, other relevant government agencies, and our users, we can ensure that GSafeTayo.”
To reinforce these measures, GCash is also intensifying its security campaign, GSafeTayo, to help customers understand how to protect themselves from scammers.
The e-wallet is launching a campaign comprised of videos, other visuals, and various information materials that not only educate but also engage users on how they can best protect their accounts.
Along with the launch of DoubleSafe, GCash is intensifying its GSafeTayo campaign through a series of awareness and education materials that will help customers identify and avoid fake sellers, suspicious links, as well as other common forms of scams.
Through the campaign, customers are equipped to join the fight, together with GCash, for true account security.
But campaigns such as these will only be successful if we all work together in creating a safe space for digital transactions —from staying informed to reporting cases and being responsible digital citizens.
GCash users can report scams and other suspicious activities by going to the GCash Help Center on the GCash app or at http://help. gcash.com/hc/en-u, talk to Gigi, and choose “I want to report a scam.”