By Freddie Lazaro
LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte – – Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos urged authorities to crack down on dating sites being used as platforms for “love scams” victimizing gullible Filipinos, especially on Facebook.
“Paraphrasing our great poet Francisco Balagtas na nagsabing ang pag-ibig pag dumapo sa puso ninuman, hahamakin ang lahat masunod ka lamang…ayun, nalove scam, napahamak nga,” Marcos said.
“In October last year, an overseas Filipino worker lost P600,000 after falling in love with a woman using a fake FB account. That poor OFW is just one of thousands of Filipinos who fall victim to online predators who manipulate their feelings to extort money,” she continued.
“Nakakabulag kasi talaga ang pag-ibig. If someone appears too good to be true, sigurado hindi mapagkakatiwalaan yun lalo na kung ayaw makipagkita in person at video chat lang ang gusto. People should be very careful with their hard earned money and life savings dahil lamang sa mga manloloko sa pag-ibig. I am asking concerned government agencies to crack down on these scammers and dismantle their networks,” she added.
In the Philippines, at least 10 percent of internet fraud reported in 2017 fell under the love or romance scam category, according to the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group.
It said love scams are not easy to solve because the victims are often willing prey. Love scams are also, legally, estafa cases, and a victim must file a case for the PNP-ACG to start an investigation. In many cases, charges have not been filed as the victims are too ashamed to admit at being lovestruck and defrauded online.
The US-based Better Business Bureau reports that cyber love scams are among the biggest cons in the United States and Canada where victims lost nearly $1billion over the last three years.
Marcos said Filipinos must be careful when contacted through newly-created accounts by persons who refuse to meet in person or prefer video chatting where they are never clearly identifiable.
“Be a smart social media user. Do not give important details such as your debit or credit card number. And don’t be afraid to come forward and file a complaint if you think you have been duped,” she said.