STEPPED-UP police campaign against all forms of cybercrimes this year have already resulted in the arrest of 397 offenders and the rescue of 4,092 victims, many of them hired by foreign-led syndicates to engage in fraudulent online activities, Philippine National Police chief General Benjamin C. Acorda Jr. said yesterday.
Citing a report from the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Sydney S. Hernia, the top cop said they have so far investigated 16,297 cybercrime complaints nationwide since last January to date.
He said the PNP-ACG has really achieved significant milestones in addressing the rising tide of cybercrimes with the record-breaking number of cases they have investigated so far in 2023.
“With a record-breaking number of cases investigated, a shift in cybercrime trends, and a proactive approach to combating these threats, the ACG is making the Philippines a safer place in the digital realm,” the PNP chief said.
The PNP-ACG since its establishment in 2013 has been at the forefront of combating cybercrimes in the Philippine amid the growing dependence on the internet by Filipinos.
Brig. Gen. Hernia said these cybercrime incidents are not static; they evolve with technology.
He said this year, cybercriminals have exploited emerging technologies like Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrencies, and online casinos to defraud unsuspecting victims.
Online scams, in particular, have become the most prevalent type of cybercrime, reflecting the changing landscape of digital threats, added Hernia.
PNP-ACG records showed that the Top 10 cybercrimes reported to the unit are online scams, illegal access, computer-related identity theft, ATM/credit card fraud, threats, data interference, anti-photo and video voyeurism, computer-related fraud, and unjust vexation.
The surge in cybercrimes is closely tied to the increased reliance on the internet for various commercial activities, said the PNP-ACG director.
From January to date, the PNP-ACG has surpassed its previous accomplishments during the same period last year with 19 warrants to search, seize, and examine computer data and 214 arrest warrants served and 140 entrapment operations conducted.
The unit is also providing technical assistance to 24 ongoing investigations by other units and agencies.
Brig. Gen. Hernia said these efforts have resulted in the arrest of 397 individuals and the rescue of 4,092 victims, mainly during operations against human trafficking being perpetrated inside POGO facilities which have been converted into scam hubs.
Gen. Acorda has emphasized the pivotal role being played by the PNP-ACG in their anti-crime campaign.
“The achievements of the Philippine National Police Anti-Cyber Crime Group in solving cases and safeguarding the digital realm are a display of our focused agenda on advancing our information and communication technology for the conduct of honest and aggressive law enforcement operations. The overall efforts of the ACG, under the proficient supervision of PBGen Sidney S. Hernia, in addressing the evolving landscape of cybercrimes, are commendable,” he said.
Beyond these accomplishments, the PNP-ACG is also continuing to adapt and expand its efforts against evolving cybercrime operations.
The unit is currently monitoring illegal online activities like E-Sabong, intensifying cyber patrol operations against terrorism and fake news on social media platforms, and conducting digital forensic examinations to gather evidence against cyber criminals.
Gen. Acorda assured the public that they remain committed to serving and protecting the Filipino people in both the streets and cyberspaces.
For any information and request for assistance, Hernia said they may be reached thru cellphone number 0945 510 5981 and through their website cybercrimewatch.pnp.gov.ph and acg.pnp.gov.ph.