Fraud and Scams

PH Bank UCPB lost P167M To CyberHeist – Clients’ Account Untouched

Another bank in the Philippines was put into lousy limelight as the state-run United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) was attacked by cybercriminals who stole an estimated $167 million of money.

This was announced by the country’s Central Bank or Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) through its head, Benjamin Dioknio, in a recent statement.

However, the BSP assured in its alignment with UCPB, that no depositor’s accounts were unfazed and remained untouched to the said attacked.

“Initial investigation results also indicate no financial losses or damages were incurred by UCPB account holders in this particular incident,” Diokno pronounced.

The head also spoke, “rest assured, in pursuit of our cybersecurity agenda, we continue to collaborate and engage the BSP Supervised Financial Institutions (BSFIs) to ensure the safety and integrity of the financial system as well as the protection of the financial consumers.”

In a similar assurance, UCPB also sent a communication to its clienteles saying that the padded security-enabled them to spare its accounts from the hack of these criminals.

“The bank would like to assure its stakeholders that clients’ funds were not affected by the incident. “Pending completion of the investigation, the Bank continues to review and strengthen its IT and security controls,” the bank stated.

The said infiltration, which was picked up by a local blogsite, happened when two Nigerian nationals installed a “malware” on UCPB’s systems during one of the bank’s systems upgrades. In turn, the malware gave access to hackers so they can UCPB funds to their bank accounts, which were then withdrawn in automated teller machines (ATMs).

No further details were given, including the degree of penetration on UCPB’s systems, which remained vague. Still, the incident appears to point out some Achile’s heel, the banking industry’s vulnerability to cyberattacks, albeit strengthened security and efforts.

It also added in the report that some transactions took place during the celebration of the country’s Independence Day on June 12, where the criminals could withdraw Php4.4million pesos or 82,000 dollars.

In the meantime, the BSP also instructed the National Bureau of Investigation “for the investigation and eventual prosecution of the suspected criminals.”

In June this year, the Philippines was the center of attracting as a global accounting scandal involving Wirecard AG, a German payments firm, surfaced. The issue claimed that BDO Unibank Inc. and Bank of the Philippine Islands held the missing $2.1-billion external auditors could not find in company books.

In 2016, $81 million from Bangladesh’s central bank was proven to have deposited Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), another local financial institution. Funds were not completely retrieved, and RCBC received pressing court charges which are still being heard up to this time. The bank also shelled out 1 Billion as acceptable.

UCPB is the country’s 11th largest bank with overall assets amounting to P328.52 billion as of March 2020.

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