Rep. Yamsuan urges Senate to pass own tougher bill vs online scammers
MANILA, Philippines — Bicol Saro party-list Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan urged the Senate on Tuesday to act on its own bill imposing stronger penalties on online scammers.
According to Yamsuan, House Bill (HB) No. 7379 — or the proposed Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act (AFASA) — imposes heavier fines on people who act as money mules, do social engineering schemes, and eventually engage in economic sabotage.
The House approved the bill on its third and final reading last March 8 and transmitted it to the Senate on the following day. The counterpart measure — Senate Bill No. 2407 — went through its first reading on Aug. 22 and was forwarded to different committees.
However, the bills have been pending in those committees.
“These scams have become so prevalent that banks have resorted to sending numerous messages to their clients through text, emails, and even Viber warning them about these deceptive schemes,” Yamsuan said.
“On top of providing a shield of protection to consumers, the AFASA will also help safeguard the integrity of our financial system. We urge the Senate to pass its version of the AFASA to assure the public that they can continue to trust our financial system as we go forth with our inevitable shift to a digital economy,” he added.
Under the House version of the AFASA, persons found guilty of being money mules would be punished with the imprisonment of prisión correccionál or a fine of P100,000 to P200,000.
Those involved in social engineering schemes face a penalty of prisión mayor or a fine between P200,000 to P500,000. And those found guilty of related crimes that constitute economic sabotage will be punished with life imprisonment and a fine of P1 million to P5 million.
HB No. 7393 is one of the bills mentioned by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during his second State of the Nation Address last July 25.
Netizens and several online banking and e-wallet companies have been calling for the passage of this bill since a lot of people fall victim to various scams, despite the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration Act.
Last Sept. 18, the Anti-Cybercrime Group of the Philippine National Police said it received over 8,000 complaints about online scams from January 2023 to August 20203.
Victims were estimated to have lost P155 million.