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GCash Foils P37-M Hack Try; Seized Funds to be Returned to Users

May 10, 2023 Philippines Events & Announcements

MANILA – GCash, the popular digital payments app of Globe Telecom Inc., foiled attempts by suspected hackers to siphon off millions of pesos from its clients after the company detected a pattern of relatively small withdrawals from multiple users sent to only two recipient accounts at another bank late Monday night.

The aggregate amount of suspicious transactions was initially estimated at P37 million, sourced from GCash users worth a few thousand pesos each.

“This was averted by GCash which immediately put a hold order on the transfers once the pattern was detected,” a ranking Globe official told the Inquirer, requesting anonymity because an internal probe is still ongoing as of press time.

The GCash app — the Philippines’ most popular financial technology platform with more than 66 million users as of last year — suspended its service around midnight of last night and was restored around 10 a.m. Tuesday, affecting millions of Filipinos who rely on the service for online shopping, settling bills at restaurants and even public transport fares on their daily commutes.

“The money is intact, and everything will be returned to our clients,” the official added, explaining that the company’s priority is to be proactive in its response so as to maintain the trust of its clients, especially with more Filipinos adopting digital payments since the start of the pandemic.

The official explained that the company decided to act after seeing successive “suspicious” transactions being directed from GCash to only two accounts–one in East West Banking Corp. and the other in Asia United Bank, resulting in a freeze order issued by the firm.

The transfers initially looked “legitimate” but were later suspected of having been validated by the perpetrators using information gathered from users through phishing techniques, the Globe official said.

“It’s not a case of hacking in that sense,” the official added. “And since these are banks which are involved, we also don’t walk to fuel [this kind of] talk.”

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