MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines' central monetary authority issued another warning on Wednesday to unsuspecting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who receive text messages announcing that they supposedly won millions of pesos in a government-sponsored raffle.
"The most common and recent permutation of the scam is the so-called ‘Handog Pangkabuhayan’ supposedly a project of the PGMA [President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] foundation and the BSP [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas]," said BSP public affairs director Fe de la Cruz.
Text scammers tell unwitting mobile phone users that they supposedly won the raffle with prize awards ranging from P500,000 up to P2 million.
"The scammers usually ask their victims to call a particular number at which point they are either given a bank account number where they are supposed to deposit money," De la Cruz said.
Victims that complained to the BSP said they were asked to deposit money as payment for the withholding tax on the prize money or as transfer fee.
De la Cruz said there were even schemes that tell unsuspecting mobile phone users that they must send a certain amount of prepaid card load to specific phone numbers before they could claim their prize money.
"If anyone tells you that you won something but you have to give money first, don’t believe it," De la Cruz said.
More recently, De la Cruz said the text scammers have even started including fictitious contest and promotions registration numbers supposedly from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Board of Investments (BOI).
"The really clever ones make it look as official as possible and sometimes even telephone numbers of BSP governor Amando M. Tetangco. Unfortunately, we have to keep telling them that there is no such thing," she said.
De la Cruz said the BSP has launched a permanent campaign and alert level against text and email scams that misrepresent the BSP and other agencies of the government.
Previous investigations have led to successful prosecution in the past, with the help of the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC), especially when specific bank accounts were involved.
According to De la Cruz, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) could block the mobile phone numbers and the AMLC is assisted by police authorities in the investigation.
The BSP explained that text scams normally build up during enrollment and Christmas seasons, purporting to call winners of fictitious government-sponsored raffles and contests.