NBI warns against proliferation of cybercrimes amid ECQ

Marje Pelayo   •   April 17, 2020   •   1006

MANILA, Philippines – Scammers are increasingly active these days especially with everyone practically living in cyberspace due to lockdowns in different parts of the world.

In the Philippines, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has warned the public of the rise in cybercrime as the national government’s enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) limits movement outside of residence.

With almost all services migrating online, scammers are taking advantage of online platforms to pursue their schemes.

Such is the problem of Jodel Merjudio who operates an online travel agency.

Merjudio reported to UNTV’s Serbisyong Bayanihan that some scammers created an impostor account of his enterprise’s Facebook page.

It only came to his knowledge when one of his clients told him about an alleged representative of his travel agency who transacted and asked money from that client on his behalf.

Part of the scammer’s modus operandi is to block the clueless victims from its fake page once payment is received.

The victims are then led to Merjudio’s official page to follow up on transactions that the latter had no knowledge of.

“Ang nangyayari, iyong kliyente pag nag-search sila sa Facebook, dalawa ang lalabas na agency. So kami ang nako-contact nila kasi naka-block na sila doon sa scammer page,” Merjudio said.

Jodel said he initially reported the incident to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 4A Cybercrime Division.

To assist Jodel, Kuya Daniel Razon contacted Atty.Victor Lorenzo of the NBI’s Cybercrime Division who agreed with Jodel’s initial move of reporting the incident to proper authorities.

The official promised to help Jodel in identifying the perpetrators behind the impostor account and to eventually resolve the case.

“Kunin nila ang mga contact details [ng kliyente] at kung makipag-ugnayan sila sa amin ay iyon kasi ang hihingiin namin (Get the contact details [of the client] so when you come to us, those are the details that we would be asking],” Lorenzo said.

Kokontakin namin sila para malaman kung ano ba ang mode of payment? Paano ang money ay transmitted? Bank to bank? Kasi ang best lead natin kung sino ang nag-create ng fake account ng travel agency (We will ask them what the mode of payment was; how the money was transmitted; and was it bank to bank? Our best lead would be the creator of the travel agency’s fake account),” he added.

Atty. Lorenzo said incidents of online travel agency scams have already dwindled for some time but since the country is under lockdown, scammers have again started to become active online. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

NBI exec, brother face raps over alleged pastillas scam

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed graft and extortion complaints against its official and his brother from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) over the alleged ‘pastillas scheme.’

Atty. Joshua Paul Capiral, NBI’s legal assistance chief, and his brother, Christopher John, an officer at the BI’s medical section, underwent inquest proceedings at the Department of Justice on Wednesday morning.

The brothers are facing extortion complaints under the Revised Penal Code, and violation of the Anti-Graft Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and the Executive Order No. 608 which established the national security clearance system for government personnel with access to classified matters.

The two were arrested in an entrapment operation on Monday night for allegedly receiving bribes from individuals implicated in the pastillas scheme in exchange for exclusion from the charges.

Nineteen Immigration officers allegedly linked to the pastillas scheme are currently facing charges filed by the NBI at the Office of the Ombudsman last month.

The modus was called pastillas, derived from a Filipino sweet and sticky dessert, because the bribe money that some personnel receive were wrapped in paper.

The scheme allegedly takes advantage of Chinese casino high-rollers and offshore gaming workers who wish to be escorted to dodge the immigration screening process for a fee.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he has ordered a reinvestigation into the pastillas scheme.

“Considering that the NBI investigation appeared to have been tainted, I will order a reinvestigation of the so-called ‘pastillas’ racket involving some unscrupulous BI employees,” he said in message to reporters.

Meanwhile, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente welcomed the development and assured support for the drive to cleanse the agency of corruption.

Morente also vowed to continue its campaign against corruption activities within the agency.

“We will continue to pursue our campaign against BI personnel engaged in corrupt activities in coordination with NBI and other law enforcement agencies in support of President Duterte’s desire to cleanse the agency,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

NBI forensic team, nasa Jolo na para sa imbestigasyon sa Jolo bombings

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2020

Dumating na sa Jolo, Sulu ang forensic team na ipinadala ng National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) para tumulong sa pagsasagawa ng imbestigasyon sa nangyaring magkasunod na pagsabog doon noong Lunes.

Ayon kay Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, inatasan na niya ang grupo na i-secure ang pinangyarihan ng pagsabog pati na ang mga ebidensiyang makakalap mula sa lugar.

May sampung araw ang NBI forensic team para magsumite ng inisyal na ulat at makakuha ng sapat na ebidensiya para sa pagsasampa ng kaukulang kaso sa mga nasa likod ng pag-atake.

“The NBI can identify the nationality of the alleged suicide bombers and their co-conspirators after a thorough investigation,” ani Guevarra.

Una nang sinabi ng Philippine Army na dalawang babaeng suicide bomber ang nasa likod ng pambobomba.

Kinilala ang mga ito na sina alyas Nanah mula sa Basilan at asawa ni Norman Lasuca na kauna-unahang naitalang Filipino suicide bomber; at si alyas Inda Nay na mula naman sa Tawi-Tawi at asawa ng nasawing suspected terrorist na si Abu Talha.

Ang dalawang babaeng suicide bombers ay kabilang umano sa mga sinusundan ng apat na sundalong napatay ng mga pulis sa Jolo noong Hunyo 29.

Samantala, tiniyak naman ni Guevarra na ipatutupad ng pamahalaan ang Anti-Terrorism Law ng naayon sa batas bagaman wala pang inilalabas na implementing rules and regulations para rito.

Na kay Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na rin aniya ang desisyon kung muling magdedeklara ng martial law sa Mindanao, partikular na sa Sulu, kasunod ng pambobomba sa bayan ng Jolo.

“If it’s an act of lawless violence, the president may use his calling-out power to suppress further violence under Sec 18, art VII of the Constitution. If it’s an act of rebellion, and public safety requires it, the President may declare martial law in that part of Mindanao,” ani Guevarra

Una nang iminungkahi ng militar ang pagsasailalim sa martial law sa Sulu upang mapigilan ang iba pang plano ng mga terorista.

Ngunit tutol rito si dating Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan Sr. dahil hindi naman aniya napipigilan ng martial law ang mga insidente ng karahasan sa lalawigan.

“Object kami dyan, ayaw naming. Hindi tama ang solusyon na yan, ilang beses na sinubukang mag-martial  law di naman naalis ang giyera dito e,” ani Tan. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Dante Amento)

NBI ordered to probe identity of body said to be Echanis

Robie de Guzman   •   August 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday said it has directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to determine the identity of the person slain in Novaliches, Quezon City, following claims that the deceased was peasant activist and peace consultant Randall Echanis and not Manuel Santiago as reported by police.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he also ordered the department’s special investigation team tasked to probe cause-oriented killings to look into Echanis’ killing.

He, however, stressed that the victim’s identity must be ascertained first before the task force starts its investigation due to “emerging confusion.”

He said he will refer the question on the identity of the body to the NBI Forensic Division.

Once the victim’s identity is verified, the Administrative Order (AO) 35 Task Force, which is assigned to investigate the killings of persons on account of their advocacies, will probe the incident.

The special investigation team was formed in 2012 pursuant to AO 35.

The Quezon City Police District earlier said that the person killed inside his rented apartment in Novaliches was a certain Manuel Santiago based on the identification card found in the scene and the landlord’s statement.

Another person, identified as Louie Tagapia, was also found dead along with Santiago.

The Anakpawis and other militant groups, however, claimed that one of the victims was Echanis, a peasant advocate and peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The family also declared that the slain person was Echanis. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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