Monday, February 12, 2024

Converge Supports NGO ScamWatch PH, DICT Cybercrime Unit to Combat ‘Love Scams’

Converge ICT Solutions is among the private sector convenors of the citizen education organization Scam Watch Philippines. Converge will support Scam Watch in the dissemination of its educational materials. 

Leading Philippine fiber broadband provider Converge ICT Solutions Inc. has linked with the Department of Information and Communication Technology - Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (DICT-CICC ) and cybersecurity protection organization Scam Watch Pilipinas along with other private sector partners to launch UnMatchPH, an information awareness campaign to guard against cyber ‘love scams’. 

According to ScamWatch Pilipinas, relationship-based online fraud, in the context of a romance, has long been prevalent in the Philippines but may see a surge this February.

The CICC forms the crux of the partnership as it serves as the main receiving government agency for all the cybercrime reports of the public. According to the CICC, Filipinos lose about Php 1 billion every year to online scams in general.

“We urge victims of cybercrime to proactively report to the CICC. We have the Inter-Agency Response Center (IARC) which responds to cybercrime complaints and recovery of hacked accounts,” said CICC Executive Director Alexander Ramos.

The I-ARC is the centralized cybercrime response inter-agency collaboration of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), Department of Information, Communications, and Technology (DICT), National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), and National Privacy Commission (NPC) with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as its law enforcement arm.

With the start of ‘love month’, ScamWatch PH, Converge, its government, and non-government partners are reiterating their message for the public to remain vigilant against romance scams that prey on Filipinos and foreigners alike. 

Corporate Communications and Public Relations Head Jay-Anne Encarnado reinforced the need for digital citizens to protect their identities online and encouraged the public to be ‘smart and safe’ in cyberspace, especially on social media. 

“With this collaboration, we are officially kicking off our Safer Internet campaign this February. We believe that education is key in combating these cybercriminals. As an internet service provider, we want to make sure that our network is not being used for illegal activities. We have always been an advocate of a safe online experience for everyone,” said Converge Vice President and Corporate Communications and Public Relations Head Jay-Anne Encarnado. 

The UnMatchPH campaign will involve social media information dissemination and content through Converge and Scam Watch Pilipinas channels and publications in newspapers warning the public, especially women, about the dangers of romance scams. 

“Scams are prevalent and continue to increase. Based on what we’ve seen, love scams fall into several categories. People need to call 1326 and report these incidents so first we can gather data and whenever possible, repair the damage,” said Scam Watch Pilipinas Co-Founder and Co-Lead Convenor Jocel de Guzman. 

“The proliferation of these scams is expected to increase because of the season. The rationale behind this partnership is to educate citizens. The three pillars of cybersecurity culture are government, private sector, and the individual and the weakest among these is the individual, hence the emphasis on education,” added Art Samaniego, Scam Watch Pilipinas Co-Lead Convenor and Manila Bulletin Technology Editor.  

(From left):  Converge Corporate Communications and Public Relations head Jay-Anne Encarnado, Scam Watch Co-Lead Convenor and Manila Bulletin Technology Editor Art Samaniego, Scam Watch Co-Lead Convenor Jocel De Guzman, DICT Undersecretary and CICC Chief Alex Ramos, Gogolook Country Representative for the Philippines Mel Migrino, BPI head of Corporate Communications Elena Torrijos, and GoTyme Bank Head of Corporate Communications Frederick Blancas.

At a press conference held Tuesday, Scam Watch Pilipinas presented the eight most common love scam profiles that proliferate among the public. Other partners, BPI Philippines, GoTyme Bank, and Gogolook all expressed their support for the campaign. 

Romance scams involve the creation of and manipulation of a personal relationship with a victim to extort money or goods, even drugs. These scams often start as ‘matches’ online, whether through dating apps or social media. 

ScamWatch Pilipinas will feature victim testimonials, going to the barangay and parish levels, to broaden the reach of the information campaign. 

ScamWatch Pilipinas urges the public to save the Inter-Agency Response Center (I-ARC) Hotline 1326 on their mobile devices in case of need. 

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