FBI vows to arrest FHB hackers

The Federal Bureau of Investigation yesterday vowed to arrest the defrauders behind the hacking of several First Hawaiian Bank customers’ accounts on Saipan, causing many, even from other banks, to withdraw their money.

FBI special agent Tom Simon told Saipan Tribune that they are aware of the fraudulent theft from Saipan bank accounts and that they are investigating.

“We will be working with banks to quantify the losses, advocate for victims, and bring the defrauders to justice,” said Simon, who is also FBI’s spokesman.

He advised bank customers to review their recent account histories and notify the bank if money is missing.

Simon said the FBI will get the needed evidence directly from the bank in furtherance of the investigation.

Saipan Tribune learned that several employees at the CNMI Judiciary were surprised upon learning of unauthorized withdrawals from their FHB accounts in the amounts of $300 to $1,000.

Nora V. Borja said she found out that she had unauthorized charges from her account for hotel and restaurant expenses.

Borja said upon being notified about the unauthorized transactions, the bank then closed her ATM card and will issue a new card that may take two to three weeks.

She said the fraud has been causing so much inconvenience.

Michelle Guerrero said she learned yesterday morning that she has unauthorized charges of $450 so she called the bank.

Guerrero said the bank stated it will block the account and will call her today, Tuesday.

A foreign worker checked her account at FHB branch in Chalan Laulau and was shocked seeing only $12 left in her account.

“We need the money. Our car is overheating,” the teary-eyed worker said.

Miguel Naputi, 18, student, was among the many people who lined up before FHB ATM machines in Chalan Laulau.

Naputi said he still has his money, but still he withdrew most of his savings. He said, however, his mother, who was with him, lost her money.

Rudy Francisco, 56, a construction worker, said only $12 was left from his account.

A Japanese national, who was among the many people who trooped to FHB in Gualo Rai, said he lost $2,000.

Antonio Yarobwemal, a staff at the Commonwealth Health Center, said he learned about the hacking through Facebook so he immediately proceeded to FHB in Gualo Rai.

Yarobwemal said his account was not hacked but just the same, he withdrew most of his money.

He asked the bank to block his account and this would take him an hour and a half to complete the process because of the long line.

“It’s scary!” the CHC staff said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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