Judge ‘falls prey’ to credit card fraud

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

A TOP Cebu judge has asked a bank to review some charges to his credit card that he says were unauthorized.

Associate Justice Gabriel Ingles of the Court of Appeals Cebu Station is being asked by Citibank to pay for close to P100,000 for 12 plane tickets that were supposedly charged to his account in December last year.

But Justice Ingles is questioning the bank’s statement of account; he believes his Shell Citi Classic Visa Card was used by fraudsters. He sent a letter-complaint to Mayeen Go-Lamparas of the Citibank Ayala Cebu branch, informing her about the unauthorized use of his credit card.



“I have never entered into said transactions because neither me nor my wife has been travelling to Manila or anywhere,” said the former Regional Trial Court Branch 58 presiding judge in his letter dated March 26.

Justice Ingles said he first discovered the “erroneous” statement of account from Citibank in December 2013.

He immediately sent Lamparas the letter informing the bank about its “grave error.”

The bank’s billing indicates that the account was charged for six plane tickets bought in the cities of Makati, Pasay and Quezon on various dates in December last year. The purchases amounted to P53,998.

“I have strongly and categorically declared that I will not pay the said amounts,” said Ingles in his letter to Citibank’s Lamparas.

But instead of acting on his letter, Ingles said, the bank added more dues to his next credit card statement of account.

The subsequent billing showed the account was charged for six additional plane tickets bought in Manila, still in December last year, this time totaling to P44,338.

Legal steps

Justice Ingles told the bank that he had not paid the P98,336 for the plane tickets because those were not his purchases.

“Your continued demands for payment have caused me serious anxiety and embarrassment, to say the least,” said Ingles.

He asked Citibank to stop further sending him statements of account for plane ticket purchases he never made.

“Otherwise, I will be constrained to take legal steps to protect my rights and seek redress for the damage your bank has caused,” said Ingles.

He asked Citibank to stop further sending him statements of account for plane ticket purchases he never made.

“Otherwise, I will be constrained to take legal steps to protect my rights and seek redress for the damage your bank has caused,” said Ingles.

Sun.Star Cebu tried calling the customer service line of Citibank in Ayala, but got only a recorded voice that required a credit card number for customer service to be made available.

This is not the first time a possible case of credit card fraud has been reported in Cebu.

In April 2013, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 arrested Ryan Abatayo for his alleged involvement in a credit card

The 27-year-old resident of Calajoan, Minglanilla allegedly brought plane tickets for Manila using the credit card of Delfin Cuevas II, a call center employee. He then allegedly sold the tickets to other persons.

RA 8484

Abatayo was charged before the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office with violating Republic Act (RA) 8484, which regulates the issuance of access devices like credit cards and prohibits its fraudulent use.

RA 8484 defines the crime as “the use of falsified document, false information, fictitious identities and addresses, or any form of false pretense or misrepresentation” in the application of an access device.

Under Section 10 of RA 8484, any person convicted of fraudulent application is to be fined P10,000 or twice the value obtained by the offense, whichever is greater, and imprisonment of six to 10 years.

Rep. Marcelino Teodoro (Marikina, First District) earlier introduced House Bill 1513 to push for penalties for credit card fraud.

The bill noted that the Credit Card Association of the Philippines has been asking the government to give more teeth to the law against fraudsters using illegally obtained information from credit cards, obtained mostly from stores or restaurant personnel.

“The occurrence of credit card fraud in the country is steadily increasing and banks incur huge losses and suffer stunted
credit card sales, ultimately threatening the survival of the credit card industry, including the negative repercussions to the domestic economy,” read the bill’s explanatory note. (GMD)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 30, 2014.

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