THE Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) reported a new fraudulent scheme that targets Filipino victims’ investments and cryptocurrency in time for the Christmas season.
In an advisory, the PNP ACG warned all Filipinos to be cautious, especially about people they only met online.
Citing a report from Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), an American organization that regulates brokerage firms, the PNP-ACG said the new scheme has swindlers approaching their victims in what appears to be a random method of contacting, and attempting to gain their victim’s confidence.
They would then use that trust to trick their targets into committing bogus investments before making off with their money.
“They will make you receive a few small payouts at the start which will most likely lead you to invest some more,” PLt. Michelle Sabino, spokesperson of PNP-ACG, said in a text message to republicasia on Tuesday.
Sabino likewise said that when the victim has invested too much already, “that is the time that you will no longer receive payouts.” She said this modus is called “fattening the pig” before looting the victim’s money.
The victims would also be unable to retrieve or withdraw their investment, she noted.
The anti cybercrime group noted that they continuously warn the public to be wary of adverts they see posted on social media because not everything they see [online] is legitimate and true. “Scammers and fraudsters are working double time, especially this Christmas season because people have more to spend than what is normal due to bonuses received,” she said.
When asked about the number of Filipino victims of the “pig butchering” scam, she said the cybercrime department does not have the specifics at the moment.
According to Sabino, this scheme is a form of swindling and estafa.
These acts fall under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code. This means the offender could face punishment from two months up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to P200,000 depending on the amount stolen.
The PNP-ACG shared the FINRA guidelines on the “red flags” to consider in order to avoid falling for the said scam.
Never respond to spam messages from unidentified contacts through text or encrypted messaging services.
Refusal to participate in video chats:
If anybody you’ve been texting or transacting refuses to meet in person, they are probably not the person in their profile picture, FINRA said.
Request for financial information:
Never exchange financial information with random people. Avoid interacting with anyone who asks for money.
Invitation to invest in specific financial products:
Be suspicious of unwarranted investment advice, especially from someone you’ve just spoken to online, it said.
Unknown or confusing investment opportunity:
Evaluate the product and person/company soliciting your investment. FINRA added that the transactee should add “scam” or “fraud” to his/her search to see more results. Search online to verify if the person is a registered investment professional.
Unfamiliar trading platforms:
According to FINRA, do research before transferring funds, especially in a growing industry like bitcoin with hundreds of platforms and new trading opportunities. whose platform? How is security? How can funds be withdrawn? If you don’t know, don’t invest.
Exaggerated claims and elevated emotions:
Examine investments that provide above-average returns. Fraudsters often play to the client’s emotions using private information provided during the earlier stages of scamming.
Sense of urgency about an upcoming news announcement or share price increase:
Keep in mind that engaging in insider trading is against the law, and you should never trade in the shares of a company based on material and information that is not publicly available, said FINRA.