THE Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) yesterday warned the citizenry about a syndicate involved in “Tokhang Telecom Fraud.”
The PNP-ACG said under the scheme, members of the ring either text or call their target and inform them that their names could be erased in the government’s narco-list if they will pay them money.
“There is a new kind of phone scam we call Tokhang Telcom Fraud, which we are exposing to warn the public,” said PNP-ACG director Chief Supt. Marni Marcos.
He said that information could be sent to their hotline (02) 41401560 or visit the PNP-ACG Facebook page: “PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group” for more information.
The official said that the scammers use technology to modify what phone numbers will appear on their target’s caller ID and mimicking phone numbers of the local police or other law enforcement agencies to tell their victims that “you have been implicated in illegal drugs.”
Marcos gave some tips to help identify and handle this fraud. First, he said that the public must avoid answering calls from phone numbers not listed on their contacts unless the callers will first send an SMS about their identity. This is needed to discern the identity of the caller and his purpose.
Second, the official asked the citizenry not to give their personal or financial information to strangers since these could be used against them.
He also called on persons who have received such fake Oplan: Tokhang message to preserve them and the number used by the scammer and report the same to the nearest PNP-ACG office in their location.
Marcos issued the warning amid an outrage from netizens regarding the new online scheme.
The unscrupulous scheme has fueled uproar among netizens who aver that conspirators would use Text Blasts or an SMS text message sent from a single source to a large group of people simultaneously, informing them that they are included in the PNP’s drug watchlist and are subject to PNP Oplan: Tokhang operations.
Those who will reply to the malicious SMS are likely to fall into these criminals’ trap, Marcos said. He said enterprising criminals have taken advantage of the Oplan: Tokhang launched by the PNP in July 2016 to victimize unsuspecting Filipinos.
Oplan: Tokhang or “knock and plead” is a scheme in which uniformed police officers knock on the doors of drug suspects and appeal on them to surrender and undergo rehabilitation.
The scheme has led in the voluntary surrender of more than a million confessed drug dealers and users over the past two years of the Duterte presidency. The program has been continued by PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde in order to give confessed drug personalities the chance to reform and become productive citizens again, completely clean of any drugs.
Marcos said that the PNP’s Oplan: Tokhang is never in anyway being conducted through phone calls, text messages or other means of digital communication as there are proper procedures or protocols in determining the circumstances that will make an alleged drug personality or any individuals involved in illegal drugs to be subjected to “Tokhang” operations.
“Never submit yourself into any scam as this one, remember that Oplan: Tokhang is initiated by a PNP member in uniform and present in a person listed in a drug watchlist in his/her known address, accompanied by a barangay official,” he said.
Marcos called on persons who have received such text messages to stay calm, do not be alarmed and simply ignore them in case they know that they are not in anyway connected to any illegal drug activities.