SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the reported loan and sale of mobile wallet accounts.
“While the use of mobile or e-wallets has provided tremendous benefits to many people such as ease of doing online transactions, especially during the pandemic, we need to make sure that consumers are amply protected from harmful elements seeking dishonest gains through this channel,” Gatchalian said.
He emphasized that relevant government agencies should come up with an effective intervention to stop the practice of lending or selling SIM cards with verified mobile or e-wallet accounts.
The lawmaker pointed out that the number of users of mobile wallets or e-wallets in the country has increased through the years. In 2017, there were approximately nine million registered e-wallet accounts. In 2020, the usage of e-wallets in the country was three times higher than that in 2017. It is projected that by 2025, the number of e-wallet users will rise to 7.7 million. Two of the leading e-wallets in the country are PayMaya and GCash.
Gatchalian said that online scammers usually use e-wallet accounts that are not registered under their names. They are able to do this by using or buying SIM cards in the black market that are registered with e-wallets under people who sell or lend their identities.
In fact, the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group has reported that fraudsters use such accounts in criminal activities such as money laundering and identity theft, according to Gatchalian.
Also, fraudulently acquired mobile wallets may also serve as channels for money mules, those who transfer or move illegally acquired money on someone else’s behalf, including those who are unaware of larger criminal schemes, Gatchalian said. He added that criminals often target students, the unemployed, and those on dating websites by lending or selling their mobile accounts.
Further, in a recent hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, it was revealed that digital wallets were used to execute bets relating to online or e-sabong, raising concerns that online payment platforms including mobile wallets facilitate gambling activities.