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Woman to be First Charged Under Philippine Cybercrime Law

MANILA - A woman has been indicted for computer fraud in the first such case under the Philippines' controversial cybercrime law, justice department records showed Sunday.

The Department of Justice, through the Las Piñas City Prosecutor, has filed its first case under the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

City Prosecutor Marylin Cynthia Luang recommended two counts of computer-related forgery to be filed against a certain Karla Martinez Ignacio.

The Philippine National Bank, as a complainant, discovered nine unauthorized transactions – two of which involved remittances made by Ignacio using her ATM card.

PNB Guam Branch Manager Serafin Agdagdag reported the unauthorized transactions, after he found out his user ID was used to transact the said remittances.

The bank after being informed that Ignacio would withdraw the remaining balance from her account sought the help of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Ignacio allegedly used the computer-contrived data to withdraw from the PNB’s branch in Barangay Almanza, Las Pinas part of a total P1,373,053 deposited in her savings account and another account in the name of Ostrich Business Services, which she owns.

The fraudulent transactions started when the PNB branch in Guam informed the head office of the questionable transactions, triggering an internal probe.

In the course of the investigation, the PNB discovered several unauthorized transactions, including the purported remittance of P1.2 million by one Sunny Pulan Juan to Ostrich Business Services, and another one for P173,053 made by Gretchen Quilit Andres to the same branch in Almanza, and credited also to an account of Ostrich Business Services.

The bank discovered that Ignacio managed to withdraw P150, 000 from these supposed deposits. She was unable to withdraw the rest of the amount after the bank noticed the fraud.
The prosecutor’s resolution said “there was enough evidence to show fraudulent transactions, especially since no deposit of money were made at PNB Guam and that there was an illegal or unauthorized access to the computer of the said bank branch which allowed the inputting of inauthentic computer computed data by the remitters (Sunny Pulan Juan and Gretchen Quilit Andres) whose real identities and whereabouts are still unknown.”

Using such “inauthentic data,” Ignacio went to the bank branch in Almanza to withdraw the amount on May 16 and that she went again last May 22 to withdraw the remainder of the account but was unsuccessful after the bank reversed the amount, prosecutors said.
“She knowingly used the said inauthentic data to with intent to gain and with intent to cause damage to the bank. She probably knew that the money credited to her accounts  are results of illegal access to the computer system of the PNB,” the resolution said.

The respondent was arrested inside the premises of PNP Almanza Branch in Las Piñas.
 Under the Cybercrime Prevention Act, computer-related forgery covers the act of knowingly using computer data for perpetuating a fraudulent design.

 The case is the first reported under the Cybercrime Prevention Act after the Supreme Court's decision upholding the law's constitutionality.

Karla Martinez Ignacio could face up to six years in jail if found guilty of transferring thousands of dollars to her bank account using fraudulent computer data.

She was indicted by a prosecutor in the city of Las Pinas, outside Manila, and is set to be charged under the Philippines' Cybercrime Prevention Act.

The law is designed to stamp out online scourges like fraud, identity theft and child pornography, but critics say it could be used to stifle dissent as it imposes heavy prison terms for online libel.

Facebook and Twitter have become popular ways of organising major political street protests in the Philippines.

The law was passed in 2012 but its implementation was suspended after coming under challenge from various groups.

The Supreme Court ruled in February that the law was not unconstitutional, paving the way for its implementation.

But the court ruled against a provision giving authorities sweeping powers to shut down websites or record Internet traffic data in real time.

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