NBI busts int’l bank hacking ring
Seven Nigerian nationals and a Filipino woman, believed to be members of an international hacking syndicate targeting individual bank accounts, were arrested on Tuesday night by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation, the Inquirer learned.
NBI-Cybercrime Division executive officer Vic Lorenzo said the foreign nationals were holders of student and tourist visas. They were arrested in a rented house inside a subdivision in Gen. Trias Cavite.
“The suspects are members of a well-organized international syndicate of bank hackers operating here,” Lorenzo said.
He added that the presence of the cell syndicate in the country was reported by their counterparts abroad and by local banks which were victimized by the syndicate.
Lorenzo said the suspects’ modus operandi includes taking in Filipina girlfriends and sometimes even going to the extent of marrying them so they can use them as fronts to establish legitimate identification cards.
“They enroll as students to get a valid identification card or sometimes marry a Filipina girlfriend to establish an identity. The girlfriends or the wife were used to open bank accounts,” Lorenzo said.
He explained that most of the time, the women were not aware they were victims of a scam and were being used to gain access to the banking system.
The new accounts, Lorenzo said, were used to access other individual bank accounts using e-mail addresses.
“They clone or mimic accounts of target accounts the access to which they acquired through the accounts of their wives or girlfriends,” Lorenzo said.
He added that the hackers would then study how to access individual accounts. “They study the system and then begin hacking individual accounts,” Lorenzo explained.
He said the women duped by the Nigerians usually were not aware they were being used as accomplices by the syndicate.
“Most of these women were also victims of the syndicate. They thought they were just helping their boyfriends because of strict bank rules on foreigners opening a bank account in the country,” Lorenzo said.
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