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Lawmaker on cash transfers: Phishing scam or security breach?

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 05:44 AM December 17, 2021

A lawmaker on Thursday expressed concern over the recent cash transfer incidents involving BDO Unibank Inc. and Union Bank of the Philippines (Unionbank) a day after Unionbank said it had identified six “persons of interest” and frozen P5 million worth of funds.

Although the banks have said they would reimburse depositors any losses that might arise from the incidents, Misamis Oriental Rep. Juliette Uy said she remained concerned over how the BDO accounts were accessed, how funds were transferred to Unionbank accounts, and how the funds in the Unionbank accounts were used in bitcoin transactions.

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The congresswoman was referring to public claims depositors made on social media that they were not victims of a phishing scam, but their accounts were used in what they claimed were actual breaches of bank security and involved cryptocurrency.

Uy, a member of the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries, made several suggestions on how the authorities should proceed in the presumably ongoing investigation and urged the inclusion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation.

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“It would also be wise for these government regulatory agencies and the private banks involved to formally ask the NBI cybercrime and DOJ cybercrime units to get involved early on so that case buildup can begin while recollections and electronic evidence are still fresh,” she said.

Uy echoed the questions bank depositors posted on social media asking whether the incidents were phishing scams or if hackers actually breached the banks’ online security.

“The regulators and investigators must act fast because if the perpetrators are within the Philippines, then they should be found fast and prevented from leaving the country. If there are perpetrators based overseas, then Interpol must be alerted,” she said.

Unionbank chief technology and operations officer Henry Aguda said on Wednesday that six persons of interest had already been identified but their names had not been disclosed. The bank, however, had already frozen about P5 million worth of funds that were supposedly transferred from almost 700 BDO clients.

Aguda said the NBI and the PNP were already involved in the investigation and all the necessary reports would likewise be submitted to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

“As one of the receiving banks, Unionbank stands in solidarity with the entire banking industry and the relevant government agencies in fighting against the cybercriminals. We are collaborating closely with BDO. In fact, we’ve started collaborating even over the weekend,” Aguda said. “We’re doing everything we can do to help the victims.”

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TAGS: BDO, Cash transfer, hack, UnionBank
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