MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The job offer sounds tempting enough, with earnings of up to P8,000 (S$217) a day, well above current industry rates. All you have to do is click a link to know more.

The 8.9 per cent rise in unemployment-which translates to some 4.25 million Filipinos left jobless by the pandemic as of September 2021-also makes the invitation irresistible. But beware! The more tech-savvy would immediately spot several red flags in the offer: The number is unfamiliar, the sender unknown, and the firm or company unidentified as well.

The job isn’t specified either, and one is directed to a site through a link-the suspicious route employed by dubious click-bait operators. The unsolicited text messages may have different spiels, but the ultimate aim is the same: to get the text recipient to click the link.

The messages are blasted out to the mass of mobile phone subscribers out there, creating what Sen. Joel Villanueva has described as an “epidemic of text scams” that offers anything from no-collateral loans to well-paying jobs and astronomical raffle prizes.

How did the senders get the phone numbers of their recipients? Villanueva, chair of the Senate labour committee, suspects that such “illegal and unscrupulous” robo texts are the “forbidden fruit of a data breach or data sale somewhere,” and even a variant of “fake news” that prey on the millions of Filipinos desperate to find alternative means of earning amid the global health…

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