This photo shows Philippine National Police Chief Benjamin Acorda during a Palace press briefing on Feb. 6, 2024.
MANILA, Philippines — Swindling or fraudulent schemes aimed at tricking someone for personal gain, is the top cybercrime in the Philippines, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Benjamin Acorda said.
In a press conference at Malacañang on Tuesday, the top cop said that online scams, particularly swindling are the most committed cybercrime in the Philippines, accounting for 15,000 incidents.
“There are some (crimes committed) outside the country, while some are local crimes,” Acorda said.
To trace the perpetrators, Acorda also said that authorities are now using information from SIM card registration.
“Through SIM card identification, medyo na-tretrace natin, nakakatulong sa pag-trace natin sa identity ng mga scammers,” Acorda said.
Swindling, also known as estafa, may be penalized from six months to six years imprisonment, according to the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
Following swindling, the top five cybercrimes in the country, according to Acorda, are:
- Illegal access – 4,000 cases
- Identity theft – 2,000 cases
- Credit card fraud – Almost 2,000
Meanwhile, cyber libel, which is similarly defined under the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the RPC, also has 2,000 cases, according to the PNP chief.
Cybercrime cases are defined and penalized under Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
The Cybercrime Prevention Act has been flagged by United Nations Rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression Irene Khan on February 3 as it brings a “chilling effect” to journalists instead of being utilized for other cybercrime offenses.
On January 31, the PNP Anti-Cybercrime group recorded 2,999 cases of cyber identity theft in 2023, which is a 12.2% rise from the 1,402 cases logged in 2022.
In response to the uptick in cyber crime cases, the Department of Interior and Local Government said that it would formally train local police officers in detecting and preventing cyber crimes by establishing National Cybercrime Training Institute.
“Although seemingly we have seen our crime statistics improve, it went down by 10%, there is a need for us to focus on cybercrimes. That’s what we saw went up in the last quarter,” Acorda said in a mix of English and Filipino.
In January 2023, the PNP announced its focus on tackling the increase in cybercrime incidents in the country, labeling it as the “fastest-growing transnational organized crime” globally.