Fraudsters behind text scams offering jobs 'sophisticated', 'adaptive'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 25) — The fraudsters behind the text scam offering fake jobs are "sophisticated" and "adaptive," according to a cybersecurity expert.

Privacy Commissioner Mon Liboro earlier said an "organized syndicate" was behind the scheme.

Understanding the text scam

The scam is not the traditional type of phishing or scamming technique in which the subscriber will be asked to go to a website and give their credentials, Angel Redoble, Smart-PLDT chief information security officer told CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday.

This one is interactive, he said.

A scammer will start interacting with the subscriber and ask them to send money in exchange for a commission, he said.

For example, one of the fraudsters that Redoble's cybercrime probe team engaged with initially asked for P200 in exchange for a P60 commission.

"Dito sa strategy nila, yung first money na ibibigay mo, ibabalik nila sayo," he shared.

[Translation: Their strategy is they will give you back the money you sent them the first time.]

"We transferred money and we kept on doing that until we came to a point wherein we were no longer allowed to withdraw our money. The bigger the amount, the more difficult it is to get your money and that is how the subscribers are scammed," he added.

During the process, Redoble said his team found out the only way to discourage the scammers is when subscribers are no longer allowed to access the fraudsters' domains.

He said his team blocked a number of domains used to steal money from their subscribers.

However, they are also very fast, Redoble said. The moment the scammers knew Smart was blocking them, they came up with new domains and "more sophisticated tactics."

"Last night, I think we have added more than 20 domains to our blocked list. That is how sophisticated and adaptive these fraudsters are," he said.

On Wednesday, government officials met with telecommunications providers and other firms to tackle the text scam.

The meeting aimed to come up with a common strategy to protect the subscribers, Redoble said.