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A hacker - working with and/or from an IP address based in Malaysia - successfully hijacked the Yahoo! email account of a private banking client of a Philippine bank late last month and had an unsuspecting bank officer wire over $23,000 to the hacker's account.
What was chilling in this hacking incident - Cocktales knows both the banker and the client - was that the scammer was online at the same time the bank client was frantically emailing instructions and calling her banker in Makati from New York to recall the spurious fund transfer order.
Worse, the banker's emailed answers to the real client was never received by her but were instead diverted to the hacker who was monitoring the client's email account while she, the depositor, was also online with Yahoo!
Traced to an IP address in Malaysia, the hacker had apparently gotten wind of the bank client having ordered her secretary the day before to see the banker and withdraw $5,000 in person from the Makati head office.
After the withdrawal, the banker dutifully reported back to his client by email, unaware that the Yahoo! account had already been compromised.
Within minutes, the Malaysian hacker answered to give thanks, copying the color font and size that the real owner of the Yahoo! account had been using to communicate with the banker.
According to the banker, who shall remain unnamed, the hacker then asked how much balance was still left with the account and, when the banker promptly answered, ordered him to wire over $23,000 to a Malaysian bank account supposedly to fund a new business venture.
The banker followed the emailed transaction, but, for still unclear reasons, failed to first confirm the new order by either text message or phone call with the overseas client, as had been their standard protocol.
The fraud was discovered only the following day, when the real bank account holder went online in New York to check her account.
By then it was too late.
According to the banker, the money had already been wired to a corporate account in a Public Bank Berhad branch in Port Dickson, Malaysia.
After failing to stop the withdrawal, the Philippine bank attempted to get more background of the recipient of the fraudulent transfer, but could not gain cooperation from the Malaysian end pending official request from the proper Philippine authorities.
The Philippine bank, in the meantime, was able to stop a second hacking attempt, also reportedly coming from Malaysia.
Another collateral damage: the hacker was also able to extract all the credit card communications of the bank depositor, prompting the depositor to call from New York each and every card company in the Philippines to cancel her credit cards.
Audi, Porsche importer disputes financial conundrum
PGA Cars of insurance magnate Robert Coyiuto Jr. wrote to say that Cocktales's August 7 report about the Audi and Porsche importer's two-year losing streak was "misleading, inaccurate and an outright falsity."
"Contrary to Mr. Agustin's assertion, PGA Cars reported a combined NET INCOME for the years 2010 and 2011," wrote PGA Cars comptroller Raquel Robles, without disclosing the figures.
"These figures are eloquently reflected in the Financial Statements and Auditor's Report filed by PGA with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Securities and Exchange Commission, copies of which are readily available at the SEC."
Cocktales does have a copy of the 2011 financial report, where PGA Cars reported P5.18 million net income for 2011 and P19 million for 2010.
Still, the profits were not enough to wipe out the losses that the luxury car imported had piled up through the years.
To quote PGA Cars' independent auditor, Jacqueline Yap: "The Company incurred significant accumulated losses from continuing operations of P131,132,013 and P136,318,121 as of December 31, 2011 and 2010, respectively."
"(PGA Cars's) continuation as a going concern is dependent upon its ability to generate sufficient cash flows or take decisive action to preserve the value of the Company," added Yap, who incidentally is a neighbor of PGA Cars.
"As such, the Company is working on to increase sales and profit and right sizing the organization and statements of financial position of the Company to the level which they feel they can support and sustain given their market, the opportunities they can tap in relation to their capabilities and resources."
To compound PGA Cars' challenging financial situation, "the Company has a pending examination with the Bureau of Internal Revenue as of reporting date," Yap said in a one-line footnote in her April 13, 2012 report.
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