You have been chosen as a winner of P3,000. Just click on this link to claim.” I get this text and similar ones at least twice a day. Some even mention my name. I think to myself, how do these strangers even know my personal information?
I am bothered. I find myself blocking all these numbers and yet the scam texts continue to pour in on a daily basis. It is not a mere annoyance anymore. At this point, I am sick of it. The good thing is, I know it is a scam and do not engage (I never click on a link from an unknown source). Unfortunately, not everyone is like me. There are people out there who believe in, or like to believe in, the promise of money, love, a job. These people are those who are probably going through a tough time in life and are vulnerable. They are prey to these heartless online criminals.
Early this year, a lady from Florida lost $100,000 to a man who never even existed. In news reports, Rebecca D’Antonio met “Mathew” in a dating app. He was a good-looking, sexy man based on his photos (though he refused video calls). After insidiously gaining her trust and confidence, he then went in for the kill. He started finessing her, asking money for hospital bills, and other seemingly important reasons. This catfishing scheme is common using fake identities. Someone’s “dream partner” is manufactured by illegally using photos of an attractive male or female, creating a persona, and luring lonely people online.
Aside from the “It’s your lucky day” texts, I also get these requested and hidden messages from men on Instagram. They use photos of a handsome man, with sports cars, traveling, and showing off a chiseled physique. They send messages like “I have never seen such a beautiful smile, can we be friends?” or other cheesy lines. Yuck! Well, I wasn’t born yesterday, buddy! I am the wrong demographic for these digital gigolos. Dude, I have a heart of stone. Delete.
These scams can even create an upheaval in lives. I watched a movie where a promising American football star believed he had a girlfriend, whom he had never met, but established a connection online and through phone calls. Unknown to him, the “girlfriend” was actually a man. And this went out of control, and eventually ruined the career of the aspiring sportsman. What is it in humans that we all would like to believe the best in people? I think it is goodness. Besides, being suspicious of everyone every time is just too tiring. But, what to do?
Aside from the “true love” lures of internet scams, there is a proliferation of pornography. I’m sure you’ve received messages on Instagram from mostly sexy women offering illicit photos or videos for a fee. Locally, these ladies send these nude photos for P500 a pop. There are so many of these, and I recommend that you block away. I constantly report these IG accounts when they message me, even if there are many of them. I know I won’t be able to stop it, but at least I get them out of my feed and direct messages. It’s a new style of prostitution, I guess. There are also these FOREX “experts” who suddenly follow your IG, and when you look at their posts, there are photos of wads of cash and FOREX charts. They want to look legit. They contact unsuspecting victims, then promise a lot of money for an “investment.”
Someone’s “dream partner” is manufactured by illegally using photos of an attractive male or female, creating a persona, and luring lonely people online.
Then there are the creative scammers. There’s this IG account under the name “Mark Robert” offering membership to the Illuminati. Yep, the Illuminati, that secret society founded in the 17th century whose members were powerful people through history. Like, super red flag here. Aside from the membership, if you send them a fee of over $3,000, they promise a new car and boxes of cash worth millions to be delivered to you in 24 hours. They badger you with calls to pay this ridiculous amount. The payment (through Western Union) goes to an account in Congo. I repeat, Congo. And strangely, they accept G-Cash, which makes me think they have a local partner. It’s amazing how these soul-less scammers are so imaginative.
I researched and online scams and fraud fall under cybercrime. Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is the law against cybercrimes, which include cybersquatting, cybersex, child pornography, identity theft, illegal access to data, etc. The punishment for online scamming is imprisonment of two months to 20 years. This depends on the amount involved. To report a complaint, if you are a victim of a scam (or any cybercrime), you can go to the Office of Cybercrime (OOC) at the Department of Justice; or you can email [email protected]. One can also contact through telephone at 5262747 or 5218345.
Technology is great and has opened avenues of knowledge and experiences, but it has also become a vehicle to commit grave offenses. Online scams are so prevalent and hurtful; please don’t fall for them.