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Bank fraud losses hit P1 billion

BANKING FRAUD losses climbed to P1 billion so far this year, as cybercrime rose alongside the increase in digital transactions amid the lockdown.

“I think the losses this year [from] unauthorized withdrawals and unauthorized branch transfers, it’s more than a billion pesos. That’s the latest estimate,” Ramon L. Jocson, the cybersecurity committee vice chair of the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), said on Wednesday.

The volume of cybercrimes this year is now three times higher than in 2019, Mr. Jocson said.

“The figures that I quoted are those that have been reported to us. Take note that in some cases, some of the victims don’t even bother to report anymore,” Mr. Jocson, who is also chief operating officer at Bank of the Philippine Islands, said.

Mr. Jocson cited a study by Cisco Systems, Inc. which found that 57% of small- and medium-sized businesses in the country experienced a cyberattack in the past year.

“This emerging new normal has given rise to a variety of cyberattacks, which have been evolving and becoming more complex. The Philippines is one of the fastest-growing economies in the Asia-Pacific, but is also considered to be one of the countries most vulnerable to cyberattacks,” BAP President Jose Arnulfo A. Veloso said.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno has earlier said that a major cyberattack could affect the stability of the financial system.

The BAP on Wednesday launched an anti-scam campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness. It signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) for information dissemination efforts.

“What we would like to do is to give the KBP and their members the ability to identify what we see as the usual modus operandi of these perpetrators by sharing cases of how they are able to do their work,” Mr. Veloso, who is also the president and chief executive officer of Philippine National Bank, said.

He said the BAP’s main goal is to prevent bank clients from incurring losses due to cyberattacks.

Mr. Veloso said they will be partnering with the Department of Justice to implement a training program for enforcers and prosecutors.

The BSP earlier said 13% of the 20,000 consumer concerns they received in 2020 were about fraudulent and unauthorized transactions.

Separately, the Anti-Money Laundering Council found that 49% of suspicious transaction reports since the March 2020 lockdown until Aug. 31 last year were related to skimming, phishing, and unauthorized transactions as well. — L.W.T. Noble

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