3 Filipinos Charged with Credit Card FraudJanette Toral
Total Solutions Software, Inc. (TSSI) is a subsidiary of YES Limited (YES), a Hong-Kong-based IT company. In 2003, TSSI launched www.YESPinoy.com, a Filipino community website whose aim is to bring together Filipino’s from all over the world and provide them with a means to contact other Filipinos from the Philippines and those working abroad.
CREDIT CARD FRAUD
According to country manager Paul Hubbard, “During the middle of October 2003, we became aware of irregular activity within the YESPinoy computer system. A number of YESPinoy members were sending money to the same individual. Some of the Credit Card transactions had been successful but some had not been honored by the credit card issuing bank.”
“The registration details of members who had allegedly sent money to the same person had details relating to persons in the United States of America. Using our audit trail we traced the access point to the Internet to an Internet Service Provider in The Philippines.”
“We telephoned some of the telephone numbers supplied with the member details. The American citizens on the other end of the phone had never heard of YESPinoy™ and had no connections with anyone in the Philippines.”
“Working with SMART telecommunications we worked out that the SMART Money Card that been sent money was being used at ATM machines in Quezon City. The name on the SMART Money Card was Karina Co.”
“By this time we were closely monitoring the activity of the members that had already sent or attempted to send money to the Karina Co Smart Money Card. More transactions were made to the same SMART Money Card. We decided to void the fraudulent transactions but still allow the SMART Money Card to be credited so that the culprits would not know that we were on to them.”
Hubbard explained that it was obvious that details of American Citizens were being used to register new memberships with YESPinoy. SMART Money cards were then being ordered through the new memberships to addresses in Quezon City. Once the SMART Money Cards had been received and activated. Stolen credit cards were then being used to send money to the SMART Money Cards.
Hubbard added, “Towards the end of October we were able to identify what we belived to be another fraudulent application for a SMART Money card in the name of Tony Perez. We telephoned the American Citizen whose name appeared as the person who ordered the Card. The American Citizen confirmed that he had no knowledge of YESPinoy. It was at this point that we contacted the NBI. The NBI looked at the evidence and concluded that should attempt to entrap the recipient of the Tony Perez SMART Money Card.”
Tracing the owner of the Credit Card
While the entrapment operation was being setup TSSI requested the help of Equitable Credit Card Network (ECN) to trace the owner of one of the Credit Cards in the USA. After a number of days the bank in the USA that issued the Credit Card confirmed that the owner of the card had not initiated the transaction through YESPinoy.
On the 3rd of November, members of the NBI special operations group posed as Fedex couriers and arrested a man named Dante Castro at a Quezon City address posing as Tony Perez. Under questioning Dante Castro admitted that he was given a forged identity card in the name of Tony Perez by a woman called Marichu Villegas. Dante Castro under questioning stated that he had been given a mobile number to text once he had received the SMART Money card in the name of Tony Perez.
Dante Castro agreed to cooperate with NBI and passed to them the mobile telephone number he was given by Marichu Villegas. The NBI sent a message to the mobile number and arranged for Dante Castro to hand over the SMART Money card in the name of Tony Perez at a Jollibee restaurant in Quezon City. Marichu Villages was arrested by the NBI when she subsequently received the SMART Money Card in the name of Toney Perez from Dante Castro.
Marichu Villages confessed that her common law husband, Zandro Del Pilar, was the person who instigated the fraudulent credit card transactions and arranged for the application of SMART Money cards using false names.
Hubbard believes that there is enough evidence to convict the perpetrators of this credit card fraud. Investigations are ongoing which may lead to additional evidence being uncovered. The American Embassy has been contacted and details of the American Citizens used will be passed to them.
Many people believe that the Internet is not a secure place to do business or to make purchases using Credit or Debit Cards. It is perfectly safe using a debit or credit card with trusted websites. At this time Hubbard admits that it is not known how the stolen credit card details were obtained. “They were not obtained from YESPinoy and may not have been obtained from the Internet but from other sources.”
“People also believe that it is the credit card company or the credit card owner who is the person who has to foot the bill for fraudulent credit card transactions. This is not correct. It is the website owner who has to refund the money back to the credit card holder when a fraudulent transaction. These people attempted to steal money from YESPinoy, potentially putting Filipino jobs at risk.”
YES was founded in Hong-Kong in 1988 and was established to meet the growing demand for sophisticated solutions to banking and financial systems automation in Hong Kong. TSSI was established in The Philippines to provide, initially, offshore support for its parent company.
YESPinoy offers services such as:
YESPinoy™ SMS – provides Filipinos with a cheap SMS text messaging service that members can use to send text messages to their friends abroad.
YESPinoy™ Send Money Service – provides members with a way to send money to a SMART Money cardholder here in the Philippines using a credit card and an Internet connection. YESPinoy also provides a mechanism for members to order SMART Money Cards for friends and Family.
YESPinoy™ Community – provides members with a way to look for old friends, search for jokes and recipes and access Filipino headline news of the day.