The Department of Information and Communication Technology – Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (DICT-CICC ) and Converge ICT Solutions have joined forces with other private sector partners to launch UnMatchPH, a campaign to raise awareness and prevent cyber ‘love scams’.
The campaign, which coincides with the start of ‘love month’, aims to educate the public, especially women, about the dangers of online romance fraud, which has been prevalent in the country for a long time and may increase this February.
According to Scam Watch Pilipinas, a cybersecurity protection organization and one of the partners of the campaign, romance scams involve the creation and manipulation of a personal relationship with a victim to extort money or goods, even drugs. These scams often start as ‘matches’ online, whether through dating apps or social media.
The DICT-CICC is the main government agency that receives and responds to cybercrime reports from the public. The CICC estimates that Filipinos lose about P1 billion every year to online scams in general.
CICC Executive Director Alexander Ramos urged victims of cybercrime to proactively report to the CICC, which has the Inter-Agency Response Center (I-ARC) that handles cybercrime complaints and recovery of hacked accounts. The I-ARC is a collaboration of the CICC, DICT, National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), National Privacy Commission (NPC), Philippine National Police (PNP), and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Converge Vice President and Corporate Communications and Public Relations Head Jay-Anne Encarnado said that the company advocates a safe online experience for everyone and wants to make sure that its network is not used for illegal activities. “We believe that education is key in combating these cybercriminals. As an internet service provider, we want to make sure that our network is not being used for illegal activities. We have always been an advocate of a safe online experience for everyone,” she said.
The UnMatchPH campaign will involve social media information dissemination and content through Converge and Scam Watch Pilipinas channels and publications in newspapers. At a press conference, Scam Watch Pilipinas presented the eight most common love scam profiles that target the public. Other partners of the campaign, such as BPI Philippines, GoTyme Bank, and Gogolook, also expressed their support.
Scam Watch Pilipinas Co-Founder and Co-Lead Convenor Jocel de Guzman said that scams are prevalent and continue to increase. “Scams are prevalent and continue to increase. Based on what we’ve seen, love scams fall in several categories. People need to call 1326 and report these incidents so first we can gather data and whenever possible, repair the damage,” he said.
Scam Watch Pilipinas also urges the public to save the I-ARC Hotline 1326 on their mobile devices in case they need it.