AMID the continuing rise in complaints regarding online scams in the country, cybercops from the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP ACG) last Friday arrested a notorious online scammer in an entrapment operation in Quezon City, PNP ACG director, Police Senior Superintendent Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar announced today.

Eleazar identified the suspect as Norberta Arriola Gannaban, a resident of Phase 8, Lot 2, Pinugay, Baras, Rizal who was discovered using the different aliases ‘Marivic/Mavic Guzman Ganaban/Aurora Viscara/Bena Jane Hipolito’.

The official said they discovered through a background check that Gannaban was also arrested by the San Jose del Monte City Police Station in Bulacan for involvement in a syndicated estafa case in December 2014. The official said that during her first arrest, the suspect gypped National Housing Authority (NHA) housing applicants of P15,000 each by introducing herself as an NHA employee. She disappeared after collecting the fee.

The suspect is now facing charges for violation of Article 315 (swindling/estafa) of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 6 of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, Article 172 of RPC or falsification by private individual and use of falsified documents, and Article 178 or using fictitious name and concealing true name before the Q.C. Prosecutor’s Office.

According to Eleazar, the suspect was arrested following a complaint from Lilibeth R. Linaza, a resident of no. 19 Kalayaan Street, Gulod, Novaliches, Q.C. who lost a total of P350,000 to the suspect.

The PNP ACG director said that Linaza went to their office to file charges against the suspect whom she said had convinced her todeposit a total of P350,000 to the suspect’s account through her Lhuillier account as payment for their apartment rent.

The complainant said that she was tricked into paying the amount by the suspect when she called her through her mobile phone on the night of June 3 and introduced herself as a granddaughter of the apartment’s owner named Arsenia Hipolito. During their conversation, the suspect said she has been asked by her grandma to collect the rent for their apartment.

She also said that she was later told by the caller that they need to sell their apartment for P1.5 million in order to pay the hospital bills of Hipolito.

Trusting the caller and wanting to really buy the apartment, the complainant said she first deposited P35,000 to the suspect’s Lhuillier account last June 4, followed by another P50,000 deposit on June 6, and another P50,000 on June 7 followed by another P15,000 deposit.

Last June 14, the victim again deposited a total of P150,000 to the Cebuana Lhuillier account of one ‘Aurora Viscara.’

However, she said that she was shocked when the true Hipolito sent her a text message that she will send someone to collect her apartment bill. The victim learned that she had fallen victim to a scam artist when she personally talked with Hipolito in her house in Meycauayan, Bulacan.

Eleazar said that the victim sought their help in identifying and locating the suspect. After a series of text messages and with the help of the money remittance company, a PNP ACG team led by Supt. Jay D. Guillermo located the suspect’s address at Stall 6 of the Sacred Heart Market in Garcia Building, Pasong Putik, Novaliches, Q.C.

Eleazar said that the suspect, using the alias ‘Bena Jane Hipolito’, received another P10,000 sent by the complainant through Smart Padala the other day. Not contented, she again texted the complainant and told her to send more money to her through the same company.

The suspect was arrested by Police Officer 3 Santiago Roy 4:30 p.m. Friday when she collected the P35,000 sent by the complainant using the alias ‘Mavic Ganaban.’ Recovered from the suspect’s possession were different  Cebuana Lhuillier receipts bearing the name ‘Mavic Guzman Ganaban’ and two mobile phones she used to communicate with the victim. Three of the receipts amounted to P148,500 since P500 was deducted for each remittance.

Eleazar said the arrest should serve as a warning to the public to be wary of online scams which could rip off an unsuspecting individual of his or her hard-earned money as records show that online scammers are the number 1 cybercrime perpetrators in the country.

Eleazar said that from January to May this year alone, they have investigated 178 cases of online scam making it the no. 1 internet fraud in The Philippines.

Common online scams in the country includes telemarketing fraud, identity theft, advance fee schemes, investment-related scams like the so-called Ponzi Scheme and pyramiding, credit card fraud, business fraud and non-delivery of merchandise.

Eleazar said that there is also a so-called online ‘budol-budol’ scam, in which someone asks for money in exchange of selling property, claiming that the victim’s family met an accident or was robbed or kidnapped. Scammers useinformation and communication technology (ICT) like cellular phones, social media, or through emails to commit the crime. “We are asking netizens to be vigilant in using the Internet, because cyber security is everybody’s concern”, Eleazar further said.