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‘Computer-related forgery’ marks first cybercrime case

Posted on June 16, 2014

CHARGES of computer-related forgery -- said to be the first under a Supreme Court-upheld cybercrime law -- have been filed against a Filipina allegedly involved in unauthorized money transfers from a Philippine National Bank (PNB) branch in Guam.

Karla Martinez A. Ignacio was said to have violated Republic Act (RA) 10174 by using computer data “for the purpose of perpetuating a fraudulent or dishonest design”.

The Las Piñas City Prosecutor’s office said Ms. Ignacio, along with a certain Sunny Pullan Juan and Gretchen Quilit Andres, conspired to transfer funds from the PNB Guam branch, using the bank manager’s user ID, to PNB branches in the Philippines.

The branch manager, Serafin B. Agdagdag, was said to have been sent an e-mail last May 16 from warning of terrorist transactions, details of which were available via an embedded link. Mr. Agdagdag clicked on the link but found no lists or files.

While probers did not state so, Mr. Agdagdag may have been a phishing victim, where electronic communication is used to collect passwords and other sensitive data via means such as clickable links that allow malware to be downloaded.

Three days later, the bank discovered nine unauthorized transactions, two of which involved the remittance of P1.299 million by Sunny Juan to an Ostrich Business Services account in a PNB Las Piñas branch and another involving P173,053.20 by Ms. Andres to Ms. Ignacio’s account in another PNB Las Piñas branch.

Six transactions were successfully reversed, including the P1.299-million transfer to Ostrich, which was found to be owned by Ms. Ignacio who was said to have also withdrawn P150,000 from her own account.

PNB sought the help of the police and Ms. Ignacio was arrested last May 22 while trying to withdraw the rest of the money from her account.

In her defense, Ms. Ignacio said the money deposited to the two accounts were payments by a certain Arturo Cortez for a P1.1-million air sampling project. The Las Piñas prosecutor’s office, however, said she was unable to support her claims with the relevant documents.

RA 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act, was signed into law in 2012 but took effect only this year after the Supreme Court ruled on a questions regarding its constitutionality. Parts of the law, however, were struck down.