MANILA — Foreign criminals are likely behind the widespread SMS scam, PLDT Inc's wireless unit Smart Communications said Friday.
These foreign syndicates are said to be working with domestic operators to purchase prepaid SIM cards in bulk to use for "smishing," Smart said in a statement.
“Based on our initial investigation and through our cooperation with law enforcement agencies and state investigators, it is highly possible that foreigners are behind the text scams that have plagued mobile users in the country," PLDT and Smart First Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer Angel Redoble said.
Investigations by the Smart’s Cyber Security Operations Group (CSOG) showed that smishing messages are "most likely" being sent person-to-person and do not originate from aggregators, the telco said.
The National Privacy Commission, in its initial investigation, said the information used to send scam messages are unlikely from a data breach.
Smart reiterated its support for the SIM card registration bill. Prepaid SIMs in the country are sold without getting customers' personal information.
Former President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed an earlier version of the SIM card registration bill due to a social media provision. The refiled and updated version was passed by the House of Representatives on its second reading last Sept. 14.
Meanwhile, Globe Telecom said it assisted authorities in arresting a suspect found to be selling SIM cards with verified GCash wallet accounts.
For its part, the National Telecommunications Commission asked telcos to deactivate links in spam messages, and mobile phone manufacturers and sellers to educate users about the devices' text blocking feature.