NBI warns against proliferation of cybercrimes amid ECQ

Marje Pelayo   •   April 17, 2020   •   1715

MANILA, Philippines – Scammers are increasingly active these days especially with everyone practically living in cyberspace due to lockdowns in different parts of the world.

In the Philippines, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has warned the public of the rise in cybercrime as the national government’s enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) limits movement outside of residence.

With almost all services migrating online, scammers are taking advantage of online platforms to pursue their schemes.

Such is the problem of Jodel Merjudio who operates an online travel agency.

Merjudio reported to UNTV’s Serbisyong Bayanihan that some scammers created an impostor account of his enterprise’s Facebook page.

It only came to his knowledge when one of his clients told him about an alleged representative of his travel agency who transacted and asked money from that client on his behalf.

Part of the scammer’s modus operandi is to block the clueless victims from its fake page once payment is received.

The victims are then led to Merjudio’s official page to follow up on transactions that the latter had no knowledge of.

“Ang nangyayari, iyong kliyente pag nag-search sila sa Facebook, dalawa ang lalabas na agency. So kami ang nako-contact nila kasi naka-block na sila doon sa scammer page,” Merjudio said.

Jodel said he initially reported the incident to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 4A Cybercrime Division.

To assist Jodel, Kuya Daniel Razon contacted Atty.Victor Lorenzo of the NBI’s Cybercrime Division who agreed with Jodel’s initial move of reporting the incident to proper authorities.

The official promised to help Jodel in identifying the perpetrators behind the impostor account and to eventually resolve the case.

“Kunin nila ang mga contact details [ng kliyente] at kung makipag-ugnayan sila sa amin ay iyon kasi ang hihingiin namin (Get the contact details [of the client] so when you come to us, those are the details that we would be asking],” Lorenzo said.

Kokontakin namin sila para malaman kung ano ba ang mode of payment? Paano ang money ay transmitted? Bank to bank? Kasi ang best lead natin kung sino ang nag-create ng fake account ng travel agency (We will ask them what the mode of payment was; how the money was transmitted; and was it bank to bank? Our best lead would be the creator of the travel agency’s fake account),” he added.

Atty. Lorenzo said incidents of online travel agency scams have already dwindled for some time but since the country is under lockdown, scammers have again started to become active online. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

3 nabbed for illegal sale of COVID-19 drugs in Pasay

Robie de Guzman   •   October 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Three individuals accused of engaging in unauthorized selling of medicines used to treat novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were arrested in Pasay City, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said Tuesday.

NBI Officer-In-Charge (OIC) director Eric Distor identified the suspects as Karen Amero, Ronaldo Ceriola, and Erickson Soriano.

Distor said the NBI launched the operation after it received a request for investigation and possible entrapment operation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the alleged illegal sale of COVID-19 drugs such as Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Baricitinib among others.

The medicines are allegedly being sold thru online platforms such as Facebook, Shopee, and Lazada.

According to FDA Advisory No. 2021-0759, Remdesivir is not approved by FDA for treatment of COVID-19 and has not been granted yet with Certificate of Product Registration (CPR). This means that the said medicine cannot be marketed commercially.

In addition, the use of Remdesivir for a limited amount and for a particular patient may only be allowed in hospitals or physicians who are granted with a Compassionate Special Permit (CSP).

The NBI said a test-buy conducted by FDA personnel on September 14, 2021 confirmed the unauthorized selling of Remdesivir by the suspects.

“After proper coordination with the concerned authorities, NBI-AGD operatives conducted the buy-bust operation on September 28, 2021 at the premises of Crestly Building located at Perla St., Pasay City resulting in the arrest of the subjects,” the agency said.

The NBI said that during the conduct of inspection, several medicines were found in the area with Ceriola and Soriano, who introduced themselves as delivery riders of LMCSL Trading.

Amero, who introduced herself as office manager of LMCSL Trading, resisted the arrest claiming that they have necessary license from FDA relative to the product they sell. She even proceeded to her unit located at the ground floor of Crestly Building to show her alleged license.

However, verification by the FDA revealed that it is the LMCSL Trading located at Caroyroyan, Pili, Camarines Sur has the existing License to Operate and not the one located at Crestly Building, Pasay City where the buy-bust operation took place.

Recovered from the suspects are various types of medicines including Ivirem-Remdesivir.

The suspects are facing charges for violation of Section 11(a), (j), and (k) of RA 3720 as amended by RA 9711 otherwise known as the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009 and violation of Section 45(a) and (p) of RA 10918 otherwise known as the Philippine Pharmacy Act.

They are currently under the custody of NBI Detention Facility in Manila.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Quezon City

Robie de Guzman   •   September 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Wednesday said it has arrested an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member in an operation conducted in Culiat, Quezon City last week.

NBI officer-in-charge, director Eric Distor identified the suspect as Albazir Abdulla alias Abu Saif.

The operatives of the NBI-Counter Terrorism Division (CTD) arrested Abdulla, who is facing kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges for his alleged involvement in the 2001 Golden Harvest Plantation kidnapping case.

The operation was launched after NBI sources reported sightings of Abdulla in Metro Manila. A victim-witness also identified him in a CTD photo line-up as one of the abductors and a member of the ASG.

A series of casing and surveillance operations was conducted by the NBI-CTD in coordination with counterparts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), to gather more information, which revealed the actual residence of Abdulla.

The arrested suspect was brought to NBI Detention Facility.

Distor said Abdulla is the second ASG member they arrested in Metro Manila this year. In May, operatives nabbed alleged ASG member Wahab Jamal alis Ustadz Halipa at Maharlika Village in Taguig.

The NBI said that the ASG group headed by their late leader Isnilon Hapilon and other senior ASG leaders raided the Golden Harvest Plantation in Brgy. Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan Province.

The terrorists seized the supplies from sari-sari stores and houses; livestock, firearms and ammunition from the plantation security. They also burned a chapel and detained 14 plantation workers, two of whom were beheaded by the terrorist group.

After four months of captivity, the victims were able to escape on separate occasions during the rescue operations by the government security forces.

After the incident, the ASG stayed in the mountains and some of its members assimilated back to society as “sleepers” or “spies,” the NBI said.

PNP welcomes NBI findings on QC ‘misencounter’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it welcomes the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regarding the so-called “misencounter” between the national police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The PNP assured that all its personnel involved are fully accounted for and would be made available should the Department of Justice require their participation in the conduct of its own review with regard to the findings submitted by the NBI.

On Monday (September 7), the NBI has recommended filing charges against 12 Quezon City policemen for their involvement in the “misencounter” during an illegal drugs operation last February 24 in Quezon City.

The national police, in a statement, also said that the incident has paved the way in clearing the gray areas in the coordination protocol and in outlining improvements and institutionalization of measures to prevent the repeat of the incident.

The Memorandum Circular, entitled Unified Coordination Guidelines in the Conduct of Anti-Illegal Drugs Operation was signed by the PNP chief and the PDEA Director General last July.

“The Philippine National Police commits to honoring and institutionalizing the PDEA-PNP Memorandum Circular as both law enforcement agencies aspire to put an end to the illegal drugs menace in the country,” the statement read. AAC

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