Philippine Central Bank Probes bank hacking complaints

  • BDO claims that one of its clients was victimized by a sophisticated fraud tactic.

  • The Manila Bulletin alleged that stolen funds were utilized to purchase Bitcoin.

The Philippine central bank is investigating claims that certain clients of BDO Unibank Inc., the country's largest lender by assets, lost money as a result of an internet scam in which cash were transferred to Union Bank of the Philippines accounts.

In a statement issued on Sunday, central bank Governor Benjamin Diokno stated, "We are in close communication with BDO as well as UBP on this occurrence to ensure that corrective steps are done, including payment of impacted consumers." Since the beginning of this week, the regulator has been watching a spike in complaints posted on social media, he added.

BDO said in a statement that it is aware of a "sophisticated fraud scheme" that has harmed some of its clients. "We have already installed additional security procedures to prevent such attempts and continue to secure bank credentials," the company stated. The problem "affects a 10-year old web service that is about to be phased down," according to Bank President Nestor Tan, who added that a replacement should be available early next year.

According to UnionBank President Edwin Bautista, numerous accounts that received money from BDO accounts were froze. In a text message to Bloomberg, he said, "We will not hesitate to take legal action against those who use their accounts to promote illicit acts." According to a Manila Bulletin story citing an anonymous source, one of the accounts spent 5 million pesos ($99,280) of stolen assets to buy Bitcoin on Dec. 11.