Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has called on the Senate to conduct another investigation into the reported loan and sale of mobile wallet accounts.
Gatchalian has filed Senate Resolution No. 217 asking the appropriate Senate panel to probe the said scheme in order to protect consumers from the unscrupulous activities of cybercriminals.
“While the use of mobile or e-wallets has provided tremendous benefits to many people such as ease of doing online transactions especially during the pandemic, we need to make sure that consumers are amply protected from harmful elements seeking dishonest gains through this channel,” Gatchalian explained in filing the measure.
The senator said it is imperative that relevant government agencies come up with an effective intervention to stop the practice of lending or selling SIM cards with verified mobile or e-wallet accounts.
The senator noted that users of mobile wallets or e-wallets in the country have increased through the years. In 2017, there were approximately nine million registered e-wallet accounts.
He also said that in 2020, the usage of e-wallet in the country was three times higher than that in 2017. By 2025, it is projected that the number of e-wallet users will rise to 7.7 million. Two of the leading e-wallets in the country are PayMaya and Gcash, he pointed out.
However, Gatchalian said that online scammers usually use e-wallet accounts that are not registered under their names and they are able to do so by using or buying SIM cards in the black market that are registered with e-wallets under people who sell or lend their identities.
“In fact, the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group has reported that fraudsters use such accounts in criminal activities such as money laundering and identity theft,” according to Gatchalian.
Also, fraudulently acquired mobile wallets may also serve as channels for money mules, those who transfer or move illegally acquired money on someone else’s behalf, including those who are unaware of larger criminal schemes, the lawmaker pointed out.
Gatchalian added criminals often target students, the unemployed, and those on dating websites by lending or selling their mobile accounts.
In a recent hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, it was revealed that digital wallets were used to execute bets relating to online or e-sabong.
This has raised concerns that online payment platforms including mobile wallets facilitate gambling activities, he noted.
“As the number of mobile or electronic wallet users in the country is growing, it is the duty of the government to ensure that consumers are not victimized by cybercriminals who look for ways to take advantage of mobile wallets or e-wallets for the valuable user information they contain, which can serve as a gateway to other malicious activities such as money laundering and identity theft,” Gatchalian said in the explanatory note of the bill.
“Hence, it is important that the government through relevant government agencies come up with an effective intervention to stop this practice of lending or selling SIM cards with verified mobile or e-wallet accounts,” the senator stressed.