‘Monkey’ ID Photo Exposes Loophole In Philippine Sim Card Law

Philippine lawmakers were left stunned after an ID card with a photo of a “monkey” was used to circumvent new SIM card registration requirements intended to curb rampant text message frauds.

Mobile phone customers will be obliged to supply a photo and other personal information when purchasing a new SIM card under a law issued by President Ferdinand Marcos in October 2022.

The requirements also extended to existing users, who faced being disconnected if they did not register by the July 25 deadline.

Instead of reducing spam and scam text messages, the telecom regulator told a Senate hearing this week that there had been a “significant increase.”

A video depicting a police officer using an ID card with a picture of a grinning “monkey” to successfully activate multiple SIM cards was shown to irritated senators to highlight how easy it was to go past telecom providers’ automatic screening procedures.

“You have a terrible system if you can see a monkey and yet you approve” the application, Senator Joel Villanueva told the hearing on Tuesday.

Senator Grace Poe, one of the law’s primary writers, bemoaned the fact that text scams continued to swindle unwary mobile phone users by offering phony employment, lottery winners, loans, and “even fake love at times.”

According to the National Telecommunications Commission, there are more than 118 million registered post-paid and pre-paid SIM cards in the Philippines.

According to Lopez, there was a brief decline in complaints made to the regulator by deceived mobile subscribers after the July deadline.

She added there has been a “sharp increase” since then, with over 45,000 reports filed.

In the Philippines, consumers can acquire a SIM card using one of numerous government-issued ID cards that do not include their fingerprints.

Jeremy Lotoc, cybercrime division chief of the National Bureau of Investigation, told senators that fraudsters, including online gaming operators, were hoovering up cheap SIM cards bought from unofficial sellers at 40 pesos (71 cents) each.

But he said it was difficult for law enforcement to catch them.

“The issue is, once you use the SIM (for a crime) and get your objective, it is discarded. So it is very difficult to find it,” Lotoc said.

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