Manila Philippines police said on Monday they had cracked a 100-million peso
($3-million Cdn.) computer hacking ring that had gained access to telephone
company lines and sold off cheap phone calls.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to show she is tough on crime, paraded three arrested men, including two Jordanian brothers, before the media at the national police headquarters in Manila.
The arrests were made under the Philippines' E-Commerce Law, which was enacted after a Filipino allegedly released the so-called "Love Bug" computer virus in 2000.
That virus caused damage estimated at $10-billion (U.S.) as it shut down computer systems throughout the world, including at the Pentagon and the British Parliament, but the Philippines had no computer crime law under which it could make an arrest.
The hacking ring was cracked after the country's main phone company, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., asked for help to stop the scam, police said.
The hackers tapped into computers controlling long-distance phone calls, then sold calls to their clients at prices around half the normal rate.
Immigration officials said two of those arrested were Jordanians and the third was a Filipino.
If convicted, those arrested face up to six years in jail and a fine of up to 100,000 pesos ($3,000 Cdn.) each.
Ms. Arroyo has been leading a high-profile anticrime campaign that has seen her regularly appear in newspaper photographs with arrested suspects.