By Emmanuel Tupas, April 8 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The number of people arrested for cybercrime offenses in the country increased by 291 percent last year, the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) reported.

The ACG said that 729 cybercriminals were caught in 2018, higher by 291.93 percent when compared to 2017 with 186 violators arrested.

The offenders included 178 foreigners who have victimized people in the country and abroad through various online scams.

A total of 128 law enforcement operations were conducted by the ACG last year including 98 cases that involved the cooperation of foreign counterparts.

ACG director Brig. Gen. Marni Marcos said they were able to arrest more people for cybercrime-related offenses despite their unit’s lack of manpower.

Since its creation in 2013, the police unit only has 262 officers and personnel.

“The number will increase as we are allocated with 100 new recruits this year,” he said.

Marcos said their accomplishments could be attributed to the increased awareness of the public about the ACG and the different cybercrimes.

Marcos said they received 4,104 incidents of cybercrime last year, an increase of 84.20 percent when compared to 2,228 incidents in 2017.

“This increase may be attributed to the increased awareness of the people on the existence of the ACG and the simple process of filing complaints in local police stations in collaboration with police regional offices,” the ACG said.

The ACG earlier said cybercrime cases in the country increased by 79.64 percent last year with 4,103 cybercrimes recorded, higher compared with 2017 with 2,284 cases reported.

Marcos downplayed the increase, saying it only shows people’s awareness of the different cybercrimes and reporting these incidents to the authorities.