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NBI nabs sellers of SIM cards with verified e-wallet accounts

Three men allegedly selling SIM cards with verified GCash accounts were arrested by authorities in separate operations in Quezon City.

According to Jun Veneracion’s report on “24 Oras” on Monday, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) believes suspects Jeffrey Ilagan, Jay Cortez, and Kevin Maboloc were behind the hundreds of verified accounts being used for online scams.

“Same identity but different information. Ito pong accounts, ito po ang root cause kung bakit dumarami ang scamming activities sa Pilipinas,” NBI Cybercrime Division chief Jeremy Lotoc said.

(Same identity but different information. These accounts are the root cause for the increase in scamming activities in the country.)

“We try to trace the account, hindi na namin makita yung subject kasi nga yung information na naka-embed ay fake,” he said.

(We try to trace the account but we can no longer see the subject because their embedded information was fake.)

But the suspects said they merely serve as the middlemen of those who were creating the fraudulent accounts.

“Napilitan lang ako kasi medyo kapos sa pera talaga... Akala ko ginagamit lang sa online casino, nung nalaman kong marami nang napeperwisyong tao dahil dito, gusto ko na rin makipagtulungan sa NBI,” one of the suspects said.

(I was forced to do this because of my financial situation. I thought they were using this for online casinos but when I discovered a lot of people suffered because of this, I decided to coordinate with the NBI.)

NBI deputy director Jun de Guzman said the agency would not let the case “go unabated” and would address it as many people have fallen victim to online scams.

For its part, GCash legal office chief Maricor Adriano said the e-wallet application is now creating security measures to ensure the safety of its users.

"Meron kaming tinatawag na double safe. Ii-scan yung ating mukha, so mare-recognize na kung sino ang may-ari ng account na yan. Sa makatuwid, kahit may nakakuha ng OTP ninyo, o MPin ninyo, o may mag-takeover ng account, hindi siya magiging successful, kasi iba ang mukha, yung tunay na may-ari ang makikita,” she said.

(We have what we call ‘double safe’. The application will scan your face and recognize the owner. This means that even if the suspects will get your OTP or MPin, they cannot take over your account because of the face verification feature.)—Sundy Locus/LDF, GMA Integrated News