Police authorities in the city of Manila has arrested the so-called king of SMS scams in the Philippines.
In reports by GMA news, the search warrant, and eventually, arrest, was done by the National Bureau of Investigation, raiding a nondescript house in the city of Manila.
The suspect tried to escape but was eventually collared. He was identified as Roan Sia, aka. Mark Tan, a so-called hacker who has managed to exploit system weaknesses.
Sia’s method of duping unsuspecting victims involve sending SMS (localy called text messages) to random numbers and asking for load (locally known as “Pasaload”, roughly “pass me some credits”) which then enters into the account of the suspect’s simcard in over 50 of the suspect’s cellphones. The message sometimes masquerade as a system-generated message, seemingly-legitimate plea of help, or request from relatives. In the case of messages pretending to be from telecom companies, the unsuspecting users type a specific reply which is actually a keyword to send credits to the suspect.
The scam has reportedly reached foreign shores.
The profitability of the scam comes from the credits being encashed, reaching amounts to PHP 100 million, or nearly 2.5 million USD.
Along with Sia, a messenger who arrived at his place, not knowing a police operation is taking place, was arrested as well, after wielding various communications equipment including modems used in illegal one-time-pay perpetual internet connections.
Sia admitted to the text scams but denied being involved in dealing with underground internet connectivity transactions.
Charges for large-scale estafa (swindling) and violation of RA. 8484 have been filed against Sia.