Allan S.B. Batuhan

Foreign Exchange

WHITE collar crime, they call it.

Perpetrated by professionals who are trained in their craft. Ever remember the Ocean’s series of movies, where the criminals are real smooth professionals? Very entertaining to watch, right?

Very entertaining, if only one was not the victim of such professionally executed crimes.

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But I was a victim, you see. As I wrote last week, I have been on the receiving end of a well-organized and perfectly executed crime, such that I probably won’t find movies like the Ocean’s series so funny anymore.

Almost a million pesos in total, defrauded from credit cards that the criminals intercepted while they were being sent to me from abroad. Without a doubt, insiders in the postal system were the likely initiators of this criminal offense. Or how else could mail be systematically intercepted and pilfered without their collusion?

From the dishonest postal workers, any number of possibilities could have happened.

One theory is that the cards were sold to third parties, for the latter to try and make use of them any way they possibly could.

Or perhaps they were passed on to friends and relatives of the postal workers. Or the very same postal workers themselves may have carried out the next steps in this crime. Whatever happened next, the result was the same – they then succeeded in penetrating bank card security to carry out their dastardly deeds.

Picture this: I have now been informed by very reliable sources that the huge amounts posted on the credit cards were purchases done with the SM Group. And guess what the criminals purchased?

You would think they would have bought tons of clothes, right? Or perhaps a number of LCD television sets? Or perhaps boxes of corned beef and luncheon meat? For how else could they have managed to spend hundreds of thousands of pesos in very few transactions.

Nope, they did none of those.

Gift cheques.

Yes, gift cheques. No corned beef. No spam. No hundreds of shirts. Not even a handful of LCD TVs. Just a few pieces of paper. Gift cheques. Pieces of paper that they could then spend on any SM outlet of their choosing. Or even better, sell to monetize the proceeds of their crime.

Yes folks, Ocean’s 11 is upon us.

The modus operandi of these cyber criminals and white collar gangsters have improved considerably now. No more one-hit wonders and chance purchases with stolen credit cards. Today, they are managing to execute multiple transactions, using legitimate monetary instruments to confuse their trail, and mask the clues to their wrongdoing.

But I am an old fashioned Sherlock Holmes. Whilst these people may be smiling now, and thinking they have gotten away with it, what they do not know is that I am not known for giving up easily, and in fact, am still smiling from the many times that I have foiled such clever attempts from perpetrators who thought they were beyond the reach of the law.

This morning, they got even more daring. They called me up, pretending to be from the very bank where the credit cards were issued. This time, they may have just missed a step, and dug a hole for their very own burial.

More next week.

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