By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Local telecommunications companies on Wednesday expressed support for House of Representatives Bill 7393 or “The Anti-Financial Scamming Act“ and Senate Bill 2039 or the Anti-Mule and Financial Fraud Act of 2023 for their potential to curb financial cybercrimes in the country.

In a statement, Globe Group president and chief executive officer (CEO) Ernest Cu emphasized the significance of such laws as they would provide more “teeth” in punishing cybercriminals and accomplices, such as money mules.

“Because if your name is implicated, then you can be an accessory to the crime. Right now, people do not value or do not put a lot of emphasis on their identity being used in crimes,” Cu said.

He noted that since the enforcement of the SIM Registration Act, there have been reports of individuals selling their registered SIM cards, e-wallets and bank accounts to fraudsters.

“While some may believe they are engaging in a harmless or victimless act, they are, in fact, supporting complex criminal activities. This behavior continues a cycle of fraud and deception that affects numerous victims,” he said.

In a separate statement, PLDT and Smart Communications president and CEO Alfredo Panlilio said the proposed bills would speed up the country’s digitalization strategy and help safeguard the public against cyberattacks.

“Since every Internet user is vulnerable to cyberattacks that target our identity and our finances, protection by the State is equally vital to getting more Filipinos to maximize the opportunities that the Internet can offer,” Panlilio said.

House Bill 7393 aims to penalize any person who acts as a money mule or performs social engineering schemes – when carried out by a group of three or more persons, these will also be considered economic sabotage.

On the other hand, Senate Bill 2039 expands punishable acts to include those who engage other persons to act as money mules, as well as prohibiting phishing and account takeovers.

In both proposed bills, money mules are those who sell, buy or lend e-wallets or other financial accounts; as well as those who register e-wallets or other financial accounts using a fictitious name or stolen identity to perpetrate a crime. (PNA)