Given the restrictions brought about by the pandemic, the public started turning to online transactions.

While this is something that undeniably brought convenience for everyone to still keep up with day-to-day activities without leaving their homes, for the bad guys lurking on the Internet, the surge in online transactions is another avenue for them to perform cyber attacks.

In July of this year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) reported a 200% increase in phishing cases amid the quarantine period due to coronavirus.

Apart from online selling scams and phishing, identity theft is also common. The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier warned that online identity theft, even it didn’t cause damage, is punishable for six months and one day to six years under Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

While in cases in which victims of computer-related identity theft suffered damage, the penalty is prison mayor which has a duration of six years and one day up to 12 years of imprisonment.

If you’re among those oblivious to the fact that cybercrimes like identity theft could incur serious consequences, learn from the story of Atty. Francis Brillantes whose name was used to extort money from people for free legal advice on Facebook groups.

Brillantes said that a certain Jesselito Alegre took advantage of his lack of presence on social media to use his name and pretend as a lawyer, complete with fake IDs of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Professional Regulation Commission.

The lawyer became aware that his name was being used by Alegre to do illegal activities when a victim told him about the situation.

Brillantes said that they were able to report Alegre to authorities but 30 hours after being arrested, the suspect was set free.

After being released from jail, the lawyer learned that the person continued doing his antics. Brillantes’ camp is now pushing to file additional charges against Alegre before the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).

“I just would like to warn the public that identity theft is real and in case you’d encounter Jesselito Alegre, do not transact with him,” Brillantes warned.

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