NBI collars Nigerians suspected in P167-M UCPB cyberheist in Sucat condo raids

By: Daxim L. Lucas - Reporter / @daxinq
Inquirer Business / 09:37 PM September 08, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Operatives from the National Bureau of Investigation have arrested several Nigerian nationals suspected of being behind the P167-million cyber heist on the United Coconut Planters Bank perpetrated during the June 12 Independence Day long weekend.

The Inquirer learned that the raid was made by government law enforcement agents on Tuesday morning on a condominium unit in Muntinlupa City after several days of sleuthing at the behest of the highest authorities of the Department of Finance which oversees the operations of the government-controlled bank.

According to ranking official sources, the NBI raided two condominium units at the Solano Hills residential development in Sucat, Muntinlupa City after obtaining search warrants from the local courts.

Arrested during the raid were four Nigerians and one Filipina suspect. The raiding team also confiscated several digital devices as well as falsified documents.

A preliminary report from the NBI quoted the Filipina suspect as saying that the group “started withdrawing from banks sometime June of 2020” — a timeframe that coincides with the audacious hack on UCPB where computer malware allowed cyber thieves to circumvent bank controls and withdraw millions from various automated teller machines and online bank transfers over a three day period.

The report said, however, that the raiding team did not recover any cash. The NBI is currently in the process of performing forensics examinations on the recovered digital devices, according to the source.

The case is being handled by the NBI’s Cybercrime Division which is expected to file charges against the suspects soon.

An official familiar with the probe told the Inquirer that no less than Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had confirmed that the arrested Nigerians were the same ones involved in the UCPB heist.

The same source said the arrest of the suspects before they could flee the country was made possible by the speedy work of the NBI, after no less than Sec. Guevarra committed the agency’s best personnel to the probe at the behest of Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III.

The seeds of the heist were planted as early as February of this year when UCPB upgraded its two-decade-old information technology system from another service provider to one offered by Microsoft.

The bank initially adopted the Microsoft service but excluded the security features until it was convinced recently by the US-based firm to upgrade this as well.

After the heist, it was found that hackers used this gap to insert malware into UCPB’s computer systems using an email attachment.

The installed malware allowed the hackers to manipulate UCPB’s system and lift ATM withdrawal limits from P20,000 a day to P9,999,999 — far in excess of the P4 million that a single cash machine can hold. [ac]

29th MinBizCon pushes for more resilient agriculture in Mindanao

By Judy Quiros  September 11, 2020, 8:24 pm PNA

DAVAO CITY – The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) health crisis has led the majority of Filipinos to see the value of agriculture to ensure food security amid the movement restrictions to contain infections, an official of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said.

Speaking at the virtual 29th Mindanao Business Conference on Thursday, PCCI agriculture director Roberto Amores pointed out the need to maximize the opportunities of the thriving agriculture industries in Mindanao.

Amores noted that on top of being a big contributor to the country’s economic growth, the sector has remained sustainable even amid the pandemic.

“The health crisis made us all realize the importance of agriculture,” Amores said.

Most of the industry sectors nosedived in terms of growth during the second quarter this year, except for the agriculture sector that posted one percent growth, according to Amores.

This signaled a positive development for the sector, although he cautioned that the growth remains "too small" and there is a need to strengthen the agriculture industries in Mindanao to improve the island’s economy--and the country in general.

For instance, Amores cited the banana industry, especially the cardava variety--as well as frozen bananas--as a thriving industry because of high global demand.

“Frozen bananas and banana chips from cardava is a growing industry because of high demands in some parts of America and Europe,” he said, adding that cavendish banana growers who are facing various problems due to natural disasters could divert to cardava as it is easier to grow.

Amores also cited the durian industry as “another thriving industry in Mindanao”.

He quoted Larry Miculob, the president of the Durian industry council in Mindanao, who earlier pointed out that Mindanao produces 20,000 metric tons of durian, which he said could “generate a lot of economic activity”.

He said China as a market for Mindanao’s durian could be explored, adding that although Thailand and Malaysia are major durian exporters to China, Mindanao could compete given its considerable supply.

Amores also named tuna, dairy, and poultry as potential industries that if developed, could further propel Mindanao agriculture to become more resilient.

The Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) and PCCI, the organizers of the annual Mindanao Business Conference, earlier passed a resolution asking the Department of Agriculture to prioritize strategic areas for agricultural development due to their high availability of raw materials.

These areas include Central Mindanao, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte,  Zamboanga del Norte, Tawi-Tawi, and South Cotabato, the organizers said. (PNA)

Pemberton 'successfully deported', says BI

Published September 13, 2020 9:37am, Updated September 13, 2020 2:15pm,


MANILA, Philippines — US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, the soldier convicted of homicide for the killing of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude, was successfully deported from the Philippines on Sunday morning, the Bureau of Immigration said.


"Pemberton has been successfully deported. Umalis na po ang military plane carrying him at exactly 9:14 a.m.," BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval told Dobol B sa News TV in an interview.


The military plane carrying Pemberton took off from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Dito po sa side ng Terminal 3, umalis po 'yung aircraft kung saan po lulan si Mr. Pemberton,” Sandoval said.

“Ang mga kasama niya po ay miyembro din po, kasamahan niya sa US military. Hinatid po siya ng personnel po ng US Embassy, at of course, escorted po siya ng mga ahente natin dito sa Immigration,” she added.

© Philippine Sentinel 2020

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