MANILA - Bank of the Philippine Islands on Friday called for stiffer penalties for those caught skimming automated teller machines (ATM), saying foreign suspects arrested for the misdeed have been able to post bail.
BPI Executive Vice President Ramon Jocson said Philippine banks have been victimized by "Eastern European gangs" who use technology to hack ATMs.
They have been caught, he said, but are able to post bail given provisions under the law.
"We’re able to catch them. Amongst the banks, we share information—and it’s a gang composed mostly of Bulgarians and Romanians. We know who they are, we catch them, but they post bail," Jocson told ANC's Market Edge.
Bail for this offense, he said, usually ranges only from P15,000 to P20,000, measly change compared to P4-million usually stored in ATMs that may be targeted but skimming gangs.
Under the scheme, perpetrators attach devices to ATMs to discreetly copy data to replicate a card and make unauthorized transactions.
"I think that’s one revision that we’re currently asking from Congress (the House of Representatives) or the Senate—to revise punitive [measures] and penalties for infractions like this. In other countries, like Singapore and the US, it’s classified as economic sabotage. I think we need to do something like that here," he said.
The bank's rival, BDO Unibank, last week asked its depositors to report cases of alleged ATM fraud.
In a Senate hearing on Wednesday, BDO Executive Vice President Edwin Romualdo Reyes confirmed that the skimming hack recently compromised 7 of its ATMs in undisclosed locations.
Jocson said no BPI machine has fallen prey to such hack this year, adding that only a handful of their customers who withdrew from different ATMs connected to banking network BancNet have been victimized.
Earlier this month, an internal glitch paralyzed BPI's electronic services, including automated teller machines, cash acceptance machines, and point of sale systems. The issue was resolved on the second day.