Online identity theft cases rise

MORE people are complaining about fraudsters stealing their profiles and photos online, prompting the authorities to warn the public against cyber identity theft common on social networking sites.

Officials said computer-related criminal acts still get the most number of walk-in complaints received and investigated by the police Anti-Cybercrime Group, which received a total of 197 identity theft complaints from January to March this year.

ACG acting director Marni Marcos Jr. said his office also investigated a total of 555 online scam cases from 2016 up to present which falls under the Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code or swindling (estafa).

“With the increasing number of internet users there is also an increase in the opportunity for cyber criminals to do their illegal online activities,” said Marcos.

Jennifer Comia, a mother of two and resident of Batangas, said her niece Carnilda Carpio, who is working in Dubai, was also a victim of identity theft when a woman used her profile and photos to lure men seeking for relationships.

“On March 6, my niece was alarmed when she was messaged by a certain Herbert Panganiban Vergara, saying her photos were used by someone else,” she said.

Comia identified the poser as one Loraine Laurente, who was able to convince a man to marry “her niece.”

Twenty-seven-year-old businesswoman Jo Ann Borden also filed a complaint with the National Bureau of Investigation in 2016 after she learned that somebody used her social media profile to victimize product online buyers.

Another victim Shasha Han, a Korean-based Filipino, also complained that someone used her name and photo to victimize her friends on Facebook.

In 2012, call center agent Louella Tan was arrested after she was caught receiving money from an Australian man whom she tricked through Facebook.

Tan reportedly created a fake account using photographs of Fil-Norwegian commercial model Janka Cederstam. Tan used the alias “Jen Matheson” on the site.

The Australian said he often chatted online with “Matheson” until she became his girlfriend and later asked money from him.

From 2013 to 2015, PNP- ACG recorded a total of 1211 cases that represents the number of cybercrime complaints received and investigated by the group.

The online scam complaints were reported by victims of online buying-selling, investment, pyramid and other forms of computer-related fraud.

In order to address the increasing number of cybercrime, victims of illegal online activities or targets of suspicious online messages are encouraged to report the incidents to the ACG for proper evaluation and investigation.

“They may also file their complaints or report incidents through our website or hotline number 7230401 loc 5313 or e-mail at pnp.anticybercrimegroup@gmail.com. Also they can check our Twitter @PNPACG and Facebook account: PNP ACG for cyber security updates.” Marcos added.

- MANILA STANDARD, Philippines