I’ve Been Scammed! – Life in the Philippines

I Dropped My Guard!

Just when you finish bragging on the honest and friendly people who surround you in your everyday life, someone finds a way to get your money! I’m not blaming anyone in my inner circles, nor am I blaming anybody from my area or my city. I don’t know who did it, but somebody discovered a way to extract P300 pesos from my wallet. It could have been somebody from Nigeria for all I know.

A New Data Plan

Our day started early as the wife and I headed into town to beat the crowd to the local Globe office which opens at 9am. We were the first ones there and got right to business with a customer service rep. I was there to question why my last month’s bill escalated from the normal P1,500 p/month to just over P1,900. Several months ago, I switched from a pre-paid internet account to a post-paid account, only because I was told by the good folks at Globe that I could expect better bandwidth with a more liberal data usage plan with a post-paid accounts. At least they provided me with half of the information I would need to make the decision. What they did not tell me was that with post-paid services, I no longer was able to send SMS messages to cell phones from my computer for free. Also did they not tell me that I would accumulate additional charges that would be billed on top of my normal monthly plan charges, for other services used. They did inform me that with my new P999 GoSurf plan, I could exceed the plan’s specified data usage and would be charged accordingly up to a maximum of P1,500 for the month. At that point I would be in an unlimited data capacity mode. What they did not further explain was that  once I exceeded my original plan data limits, my speed would be capped. So I made the semi-informed decision to switch to the post-paid account thinking it would be better. Because I upload a lot of video to YouTube, I get to my cap rather quickly and the rest of the month I hang out with the turtles.

Phone Phishing!

What I also just learned is that while I am charged for services and usage in arrears, the opportunity for scammers comes with this post-paid account status. Now, not only do I get charged for the services I use, I can be subject to paying for services that others scam from my account. For example, last month I received a text message that read as follows: “I’m sorry for this inconvenience to you, but I was trying to  transfer a load to my grandson in the amount of P300.00 and sent it to your number by mistake. Could you please be kind enough to return transfer my load back. Thank you for your kind consideration and again, I’m sorry to have bothered you.”

Before I could react or respond to this poor Lola’s mishap, I reached out to my 17 year-old niece for advice. I explained to her what happened and she readily responded “It’s okay uncle, it happens sometimes. She probably just typed the wrong number.”  So with the reassurance of my witty and bright niece (the high school student scholar to be), I felt sorry for the apologetic Lola and transferred the P300 back to her number. Oopps.

Yet another text scam!
Yet another text scam!

I’m guessing at this point, this scam is self-concluding. When I confronted the extra P400 worth of charges on my billing, the Globe rep scoured her computer billing screens and finally offered up her diagnosis: “Sir, you had a P300 load transfer plus the fee for that, and additional text message charges.”  And now, I really don’t have to explain anything else beyond this point, do I?  Because I avail of post-paid services, I can rack-up all kinds of charges that will be billed to me at the end of the month. And now I know that I can be scammed as well… I think most of my readers know how this type of scam always plays out – Fool me once, your bad. Fool me twice, I’m an idiot!  Well nice Lola, guess what!  Better find yourself another phishing hole!  And if I was really vindictive, I would take it out of my nieces allowance… but I’m a nice guy!

Did you know there is a facebook page dedicated to  “Philippines Text Scams?”  Check it out!

Also, if you are a Globe/TM customer and you are being scammed, you can report it here… GLOBE Spam Report

27 thoughts on “I’ve Been Scammed! – Life in the Philippines

  1. That’s a pretty good one. I consider myself pretty savvy on internet/tech scams but I might have went for that one also Randy. Way more sophisticated of a scam than when I got drunk and bought a monkey.

  2. Golly, if you just lost P300 and learned that there are millions of possible scams in the Philippines, you got off very cheaply.
    Smart started charging me P15 a day for “ring tones” but my phone was a cheap one and had a fixed ring tone. I argued that I never asked for ring tones at all, that I just ignored the ring tone spam sent to me. The clerk at Smart informed me that I have to actually text them back to NOT get ring tones! I asked for P580 in refunds, they had an accounting of all the charges, and was told they would investigate. I bought a Globe Sim. I returned to Smart about my refund, and was told that the load had been refunded, but that refund had an expiration of 2 weeks and the 2 weeks had passed… No Sir, we issue only one refund…

  3. So are you going back to pre paid Internet account?

  4. My wife tells me that there are a lot of scams that happen in the Phils. I kinda expect it to happen when I get there- but that’s OK – most of the people are honest and trustworthy. I guess if I got scammed out of 300 pesos – the scammers probably needed it much more than me. I know when I was there we would go to the market and as soon as they saw that I was white – the price went up. I guess that’s something that happens when you are in a third world country. It would never stop me from going and seeing the natural beauty of the islands, the women, the delicious food of this paradise on earth – I will be there soon.
    Mabuhay Philippines

  5. Also be careful of calling back missed calls from unknown numbers.
    It can be bad for you as well.

  6. Not likely. I like the convenience of post-paid, being able to pay my bill on line with Bitcoin. I do get better bandwidth also. I will just never answer or respond to another text message as long as I live… unless it is my own grandmother of course. lol

  7. It’s funny to hear people say there are a lot of scams here in the Philippines when it happens the world over. I have a good friend back in Mississippi who for the THIRD time in one year, has had his credit card number scammed and charged with fraudulent purchases. Credit or debit card theft probably happens more back in the U.S. than it does here. Cell phone scams, well in the texting capital of the world, it should be expected that scammers are hiding in every coconut tree. Where we live, I never get ripped off on prices as most things are pre-priced, even at some of the markets. Besides when you live here, you come to know the going prices of most commodities and transportation. My wife does most of the grocery shopping anyway. I just stay at home most days relaxing, and responding to blog comments, he he. Welcome to the Philippines in advance Mark!

  8. Yes, thanks for that Neil. I’ve heard that but have not experienced it. Most scam problems are with post-paid accounts from what I understand. For more information, one can Google Philippines phone scams and waste a full day reading about them. lol

  9. Yep…the wife got one of those…i deleted it…she has got others too in the past…it all started when we gave her number to a person we were trying to purchase a used car from on one of the Philippine websites selling cars..(Olx.ph) was one…I was interested in a car on the island…they came back with….”I am not there as I am on business in another country…please deal with my representative…”John” on the matter…send your details and payment info to”: bla…bla…bla…when we were interested in another car….we got the same response. by another person…..then the sad story stuff started coming.. by text, , messenger, viber…any way they can scam you they will….you may want to help but….don’t do it!…..I finally gave up buying a used car from the internet…..I bought a new one from a dealer… A lot of local people here got scammed on “investment” schemes…a lot lost everything they own and some people committed suicide over it…(Seven Star, Invo8 and others.)…it’s in the news…there is a lot of scamming going around here in the Philippines lately…and they should be ashamed trying to take other peoples money….but people should realize you can’t triple your investment in three weeks without something shady going on…sorry you got scammed bro,,,it happens sometimes…live and learn I guess is in order…

  10. Thanks for the information. Like I said, I dropped my guard (which I don’t often do) mostly because I leaned on my niece. Ha, It won’t happen again. Thanks for your comments.

  11. I knew it was only a matter of time until you were scammed. Wise up mate and don’t blame the niece. Their are many good forums out there on Philippines. Read up on some of them and don’t be a victim. If you ever near Palanits I can give you my thoughts. Samar is so peaceful – try not to get caught up in all the stress and learn to live.

    Maybe you need a break. Get a Cokaliong ship and sleep overnight. Maybe Ormoc-Cebu and take the family. Unwind and enjoy life for what it is.

  12. Blame my niece? Not likely… I made a decision based upon what information she gave me. It was still my fault! I’ve been to every Philippines and expat forum there is and many are not worth the effort. I’ve been scammed only twice in the Philippines in just over 30 years (once in 1985 and again in 2016) and that is not a bad record. As far as getting caught up in all the stress… you obviously have mistaken me for somebody else – Stressed? Ha, that is funny… You are not very familiar with me, my blog, or my YouTube channel, apparently. But thanks for visiting and commenting anyway.

  13. Ever got drunk and bought a monkey? Maybe it was just me…

  14. Been receiving this text scam thru TNT lately and I also recieved the grandma text scam. Be warned:

    Good day. JORGE COMALING I am IVY, from office of Atty. Leo Mendoza of Pacer Collection Services, Inc. May I remind you of your unpaid account with SUN CELLULAR which is P2,091.82 as of this month. You may call 09399214264 ,09175315979 and 09258001572 for further details. It seems that you are not giving attention to our previous demands for payment. This actuation is very compromising as this will rise to legal problems. This will also affect your credit reputation. Please settle as time is of the essence to avoid further inconvenience. Please disregard this notice if payment has been made earlier. Thank you.

  15. Thanks for the comment Ron. The Nigerian English “This actuation is very compromising as this will rise to legal problems…” is a dead giveaway on this one. The fact that a name was mentioned is another. They just never give up phishing I suppose, as long as there are phish willing to bite.

  16. This has not been my experience in my 20 years or so in the Philippines. “Most people are honest and trustworthy”. I would argue that if there was a perceived recourse outside of a court of law, THEN most are fairly trustworthy. I remember a guy who sent out texts to strangers saying “take this survey and I will sent you P20 load. The number started with a 2, which meant that you were sending him P20 instead. I canvased several people about this “scam” and not a single one thought it was criminal, but instead most thought it “wise”. Over half thought they will try it themselves! Overt dishonesty is everywhere, ignore it at your own peril. For example, bribe taking by the police, payment for illegal logs by the CENRO and DENR, no receipt payments for building permits, commercial fishing licenses, LTO anything, Immigration, customs. Pretty much everybody knows that it is illegal for foreigners to loan money, so requesting a loan is a common scam (knowing that it is very hard to sue and collect), pickpocketing rampant, short change an everyday occurrence, selling knowingly faulty stuff, taking the factory parts out of (chain saws, Honda cycles, Honda small motors, power tools) and replacing them with after market parts, standard. Short dipping dip sticks and refilling with an empty oil can, common. Impounding cars after minor accidents as a condition/persuasion for a party to admit fault. Skimming off pre-packed goods (RICE).
    I would say that I have never met an educated Filipino who was not working some sideline/scam somehow. I saw one day in Butuan, street children paying an officer P20 to let them beg in the street. I had a friend who ran a shelter for street girls who told me that they had to give “freebies” daily to police officers (imagine 30% of the force getting a BJ from a 13 year old girl). Infringement on public right of ways, (generators, sidewalk displays, hanging signs over roadways, Jeepney/public transportation parking, Sari sari stores, drying rice) standard. Shoddy workmanship, overt. thumb on scale at the market, at least 20% of the time. Overcharging foreigners.

  17. Offer still stands. If ever in Palanits or Calbayog we can meet up. Maybe go to Bo’s for coffee and cheesecake, free wifi, and chat about old times. you need to unwind and enjoy life.

  18. I suppose when you look for the bad, you find it. I’m almost certain that you can travel the world over and find the same.

  19. WOW. I’m almost certain that this behavior is not common in any first world country, but it occurs, rarely there, agreed. This is because the chance you can be imprisoned or prosecuted for fraud is remote in the Philippines. It is because fraud is so common that it is standard and only fools (and foreigners) are drawn in.
    When Filipinos go to foreign lands this crap ends, quickly. When they marry a foreigner, they suddenly have morality equal to that foreigner, and are happy for it I think.
    I have looked for bad, but only after bad things happened to me and others. To move to a country and wear those rosy glasses, not only sets you up for some very bad experiences, but it also shields you from knowing those who you could meet and understand. It is equal to going to a movie and thinking what you saw on that screen as what is really going on in life.
    I loved my time in the Philippines. I wish I could go back and just play my whole remaining life away. But I would not wish for, or wish for anybody else, to live there as ignorant as I or most start out.
    My advise is, when interacting with Filipinos, keep in the back of your mind that this individual has the mindset that he is working in a zero sum game, that it is you or him. Keep in mind that the vast majority of adult Filipinos are engaged in activities to get money that are outside the guidelines implied. It is useless to expose them, I would compare it to displaying nude photos of people, yes it is embarrassing but accomplishes nothing. Filipinos are smart, do not think this is untrue because the scheme is convoluted or obscure. Do not think that all or any want this system in place changed.
    The system is flawed, and results in unintended results. It may seem as though I am saying that all Filipinos are crooks, I am not. I am saying that all Filipinos are human, that the way the laws are written, enforced and understood results in the system in place.

  20. There are plenty of scams going on in first world countries as well, not to mention credit card theft/fraud being the biggest criminal activity going.

  21. Palanits is just past San Isidro. Do you know Veriato falls? Its near there.

  22. Oh yes. We have visited Veriato Falls on a couple of occasions. Yesterday I ran into a newcomer at the bank… says he just recently settled in San Isidro.

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