DOJ: Phishing, online selling scam, fake news top cybercrime list amid lockdown

The Department of Justice-Office of Cybercrime (DOJ-OCC) reported phishing, online selling, and proliferation of information or fake as the leading cybercrime during community quarantine in the country.

Online sexual exploitation of children or OSEC is no longer the number one cybercrime violation committed in the country amid pandemic, the DOJ-OCC said.

“As of latest count, there are now more in absolute numbers the cases of phishing, online (selling) scams and fake under the Bayanihan Law compared to OSEC,” Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said over the weekend.

DOJ said that OCC observed a 264.63 percent increase or more than 202,605 reported incidents of OSEC from March 1 to May 24 compared to the figures in the same period last year.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the surge in phishing, online selling, and proliferation of information or fake cybercrime cases are expected since millions of people became more reliant on the internet as a source of information. People also use the internet in their transactions, such as shopping and bills payments.

“It is expected that during these pandemic times, where direct personal interactions are reduced, more crimes will be committed in cyberspace,” he said.

Also read: DOJ alarmed over rising online child exploitation cases in PH

During the recent webinar series entitled “Cybercrime in the Time of Corona: PH Cybercrime Trends During the COVID-19 Pandemic” hosted by the Office of Cybercrime of the Department of Justice (DOJ), he said: “It is therefore imperative that law enforcement agencies beef up their cybercrime units, upgrade their technologies, and enhance their investigative capabilities.”

Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails, pretending to be sent by reputable companies to extract personal information from individuals such as passwords and card numbers.

Online selling scam and phishing are punishable under Republic Act No. 10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, while the proliferation of misinformation, particularly on COVID-19, is penalized under RA 11649, the Bayanihan to Heal as One-Act.

“Before the (COVID-19) outbreak, we only had around 30 cases, but during the start of COVID-19, three weeks into the outbreak, we had an additional 70 cases, so that is a jump of more than 200 percent. Why? Because there is a necessity to use computers to do our communication, to do our job. Hence, this became one of the attacks of the current phishers,” Señora explained.