Scams in the Philippines and You
Why would we put an article about scams in the Philippines, in this publication, you are all pretty mature people who have seen a lot if not it all.
Well in our experience most of you will either have family or friendship connections with Filipino’s and in growing numbers these are the people being targeted by a new wave of Scammers offering the same false promises that relieved and are still relieving people from 1st world countries, of millions of dollars every year. Read more about these scams here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/419_scams
The Scammers are here and they are targeting families and your timely intervention could at worst save a family you know from the financial crisis that accompanies their activity.
Wherever there are people driven by a desire to have a better lifestyle, and those with a predisposition towards greed and dishonesty, there will be scams and those who make their living by perpetuating those scams.
In most modern countries where these scams have had a lot of press and education levels are higher the chance of these scams succeeding is reduced, but here where the poorest get glimpses of the consumer lifestyle of the west on the communal television, where the dangers of the internet are not fully understood, where education levels are lower and the focus is more on day to day living, they are rife and without the help of wiser friends will be hard pressed to remove. It is these target rich environments where hope is low or aspirations are unrealistically high that scammers seek out with false promises of wealth and a better life.
One of the more serious scams that is being seen in countries such as the Philippines is one where the victim is notified by a scammer that they have won a large sum of money, and in the Philippines that doesn’t mean millions of dollars, but maybe only a few thousand peso. The average Filipino only makes a few thousand peso a month if they are fortunate and any amount above that is considered worth taking a risk for. Hence the scammers have an open invitation to ply their lies with minimum risk and a nice pay day if the victim falls for the scam.
In this particular scam the victim is notified via email that they have won a lottery or similar story where they have come into a large sum of money. In each case the victim is told to make remittance to a well-established and reputable remittance firm, sometimes to a fake employee and sometimes to an actual employee who is being paid off by the scammers to aid in the scam. The amount of monies that are to be remitted is just a small sum compared to the amount being offered as the reward. But in many instances the victims turn to family members and friends to acquire the amount of money needed to receive the so called prize.
This is an area where expats and visitors can help by not only saying no to direct requests for money for these type of schemes but buy also advising family to have nothing to do with them in any way. A recent experienceof one of the team here at Life Philippines was discovering that the family of his helper had paid out 4000php as an admin fee, for releasing a prize of 720000php, he became aware when the family were looking for another 60,000 php to facilitate transfer from the country where the money was allegedly held. He intervened and it took a lot of talking and persuasion to convince this family that their dream of a vehicle and a house was a scam. Then came the aftermath when they realise there is no prize, recriminations from those who lent money and ridicule from other family members. That is not the end, then there are the months of trying to get back to the financial position they were in prior to taking part in the scam. Children suffer hardship and pulled from school to work, and husbands and wives fight over whose fault it was.
It’s not only the Filipino who lives here in the Philippines that are being affected by this particular scam but those OFW’s that are living in other countries also. In one case an OFW in Germany was solicited as being a winner of a lottery back in the Philippines. The female victim paid a well-known remittance company the sum of over 170,000 peso over several months thinking she had won 950,000.00 peso. The company was real but the employee she sent the money to, was not. And the company was not held accountable for the loss.
So what is being done to stop this type of crime? The police have no real answers, they know there is a problem and take the reports, but are dealing with better equipped and more tech savvy criminal minds in many instances. Many use cyber cafes where it is almost impossible to track down who uses which computers and for what. Many Scammers hire people who are able to hide the web addresses used by the Scammers by piggy backing off of other legitimate sites. Hacking into sites and branching off into many others until it is impossible to determine the original location from which the email came from. Cheap easily bought “throw away” cell phone also help perpetuate the scamming business. They are used a few times then literally thrown away. Allowing them to be able to network with others and nearly impossible to track.
The scamming business is a multi-million dollar a year business and is growing. This is exacerbated by the low average income in the Philippines which has fostered corruption at all levels of society and within Government Departments, even among those who investigate such crimes. Something not confined to Asia by the way.
Most official say the best prevention there is for now is to use common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
They caution never to send any amount of money to anyone you don’t know personally or have met.
If it involves winning a large amount of money, or a large settlement of which you have no personal knowledge of then notify your local police, the NBI or NTC for immediate action. No matter how much a person wants to believe their luck has changed they must always use their common sense in all matters where you get something for nothing.