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PNP warns vs ‘fake’ DSWD aid workers
THE Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership yesterday called on the public to watch out for a group of con artists “posing” as representatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to extract money from the poor in the guise of facilitating their unclaimed COVID-19 cash aid from the government.
PNP Officer-in-Charge (PNP-OIC) Lieutenant General Vicente D. Danao Jr. said that the DSWD impostors mainly target poor folks since they are the most vulnerable targets of the syndicate as they need money to survive amid the pandemic.
“I’m asking the public to be extra vigilant against an emerging illegal scheme to extract the personal information of individuals in exchange for the release of suspicious unclaimed COVID-19 cash aid from the DSWD,” the top cop said.
He cited an incident in Cagayan de Oro City wherein the local police arrested a 30-year-old man for misrepresenting himself as a DSWD employee.
An investigation showed that a 47-year-old local resident was approached by the suspect and was told that she is a beneficiary of the DSWD Social Amelioration Program and Educational Assistance.
The suspect identified himself as a DSWD Beneficiaries’ Coordinator during his series of conversations with his would-be target. However, the victim started to entertain doubts about the suspect’s real identity when he asked for money as “payment” for his services.
The would-be victim then secretly contacted the local police, which launched an entrapment operation last Tuesday, which led to the suspect’s arrest after receiving marked money from an undercover officer.
The money supposedly would cover the victim’s registration fee needed to avail of the DSWD program.
The arrested suspect is now facing criminal charges and is being held in a local police lock-up facility, a report from the Police Regional Office 10 (PRO 10) headed by Brig. Gen. Benjamin C. Acorda Jr. said.
“Based on the victim’s testimony, there was this deliberate act to deceive with the promise of receiving the benefits from a government agency. We hope that the public will learn from this case. We don’t just give our trust to anyone, especially to strangers,” Lt. Gen. Danao said.
“It’s also important not to just entrust sensitive information about yourself in case they will ask. You have to verify first with the agency concerned,” he added.
The top cop said that similar cases have also reached the attention of the DSWD, headed by Secretary Erwin Tulfo.
One case involved a victim who received a phone call from an anonymous caller who asked for her vital information, including her bank account, as these details are supposedly needed to claim her COVID-19 cash aid.
The PNP-OIC clarified that the Data Privacy Act of 2012 limits government agencies such as the DSWD from asking for sensitive information.
“If you are in doubt, report immediately to the nearest police station. It’s important to note that you should also be critical of the unknown person’s identity. If you can get his/her name, check with the concerned agency,” Lt. Gen. Danao said.