Vigilance among individuals and businesses alike are greatly needed now, especially since criminals continue to become more sophisticated even in the digital world.
In a virtual briefing, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said this necessity was highlighted in the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s Analysis of Financial Crimes Trends during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic report.
Based on the report, suspicious transaction reports (STRs) in the first eight months of 2020 rose by 57 percent year-on-year, and 29 percent of these were registered during the lockdown period.
Diokno said the AMLC report showed that about 79 percent of the total STRs from January to August this year are related to fraudulent online activities, child sexual exploitation, and abuse and money mules/pass-through accounts.
STR submissions by electronic money issuers (EMIs) rose by 688 percent, while submissions by pawnshops and money service businesses (MSBs) increased by 51 percent.
For electronic banking transactions, STRs rose by 1,680 percent for inward fund transfers and by 5,158 percent for outward fund transfers.
Those involving cash cards rose by 580 percent for cash-in and 197 percent for cash-out.
Diokno said among the reasons for the STR filing are unauthorized account access through skimming and phishing.
For these violations alone, the amount involved in the STR reports reached around P2.7 billion.
An estimated value of P84.5 million was reported in relation to suspected online sexual exploitation of children and related crimes.
Also, reports about money mules or pass-through accounts reached an estimated amount of P406.9 million.
The AMLC is seeking several amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) in a bid to prevent the country from being included in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) gray list.*PNA