Teachers are the latest victims of an increase in internet fraud in the Philippines as an unknown group of hackers has been stealing money from their Landbank accounts via a phishing campaign.
Some of the teachers from the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) claim that their Landbank accounts were hacked, with money ranging from $500 to $2,500 being stolen before being moved to different banks and GCash accounts.
A teacher from San Bartolome High School in Quezon City claimed that Landbank sent one-time password verification emails 13 times, prompting him to report the problem.
“Unfortunately, when he checked the balance a day after, an amount of P121,000 was stolen and transferred to a GCash account,” TDC said.
In a press briefing, the Philippine government-owned Landbank stressed that Filipino teachers whose bank accounts were hacked lost their money through “phishing” and not hacking. The bank also said that its system is secure.
“According to the initial investigation by Landbank, the devices of the teachers were hacked via phishing, which compromised their personal information,” the bank said in a statement. “The bank has already reached out to the affected customers and is working on the resolution of these isolated cases at the soonest possible time.”
“Landbank reminds its customers to refrain from opening suspicious emails, links and attachments, and sharing your account and personal information. Official Landbank representatives will never ask for the critical financial information of customers,” the bank reiterated.
Following the reports, details regarding the hacking of Filipino teachers’ bank accounts emerged. On Monday, the Philippines’ Department of Education (DepEd) said it was “validating” members’ claims.
On Friday, Philippine authorities detained five people in connection with a bank robbery that also utilized “phishing” scams to allegedly loot hundreds of BDO Unibank accounts.
According to the Philippine central bank (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas), hacking and malware attacks spiked over 2,300% year on year in 2020, while phishing and other social engineering schemes increased 302%.
Between 2019 and 2021, BSP-registered losses resulting from complaints topped P2 billion, highlighting the need for greater safety nets that protect financial consumers.
“Hackers and scammers took advantage of the digital infrastructure and consumer vulnerability to perpetrate crime,” BSP governor Benjamin Diokno said. “Based on BSP monitoring, the increased use by the public of digital financial services has given rise to a wave of cyber and financial crimes.”