Interagency group formed to catch scammers behind text spams

Published December 5, 2021, 10:12 AM

by Gabriela Baron

Ten government agencies, including the National Privacy Commission (NPC) and National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) have joined efforts to catch those behind the text spams luring Filipinos into dubious investment schemes and work-from-home jobs.


Spearheaded by the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), the group includes the Department of Information and Communications Technology, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Department of Justice, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, National Security Council, and Anti-Money Laundering Council.

The interagency group was created by the NPC on Nov. 26 to prevent what Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro called a potential “privacy disaster.”

“We desire to assist victims of cybercrime to the fullest and bring the culprits to justice,” CICC Executive Director Cezar Mancao said.

Mancao said the CICC is currently developing an app and a web portal where victims could report a scam through a hotline and a dedicated website.

The CICC will furnish telecommunication companies with the numbers provided by the victims and those gathered by other agencies so that these are blocked.

He added that Globe Telecom has so far blocked one billion messages since January, while Smart Communications has blocked at least 60 web domains linked to the scam.

“The CICC would employ a triage system and refer cases to appropriate agencies for action, even as he called on other agencies to assist his office in addressing ‘tactically and strategically’ the ICT-assisted scams and fraud,” Mancao said.

Liboro, meanwhile, said the interagency group is also looking at prepaid text and call attestation which can trace the owners listed in a registry to be attested by telcos.

He noted that call attestation was being implemented in the United States to curb robocalls.

“How can you trust a number calling or texting you? There should be a way to attest for the number contacting you,” Liboro said.

“For small entrepreneurs for example, having their prepaid numbers attested could boost their businesses because customers could be assured that they are dealing with someone that can be traced through a verified telco registry. Attestation could even help prevent bogus online deliveries and other ICT-enabled frauds,” he noted.

NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios batted for a sim-registration scheme that could limit the options for criminals and possibly lead to arrests.