A voter casts her ballot in Cotabato on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on January 21, 2019, during a vote on giving the nation's Muslim minority greater control over the region. ( AFP / Noel CELIS)

Philippine govt imposter site targets voters with 'cash handout' scam

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As the Philippines headed into the final week of campaigning for the May 9 presidential election, social media posts shared thousands of times claimed the government pledged to give cash handouts to all voters. However, the rumour originated from a Facebook page impersonating the country's social welfare agency. A representative for the agency said it was not doling out cash to voters.

"P10K aid for all voters / Message us so we can send you the financial aid immediately," reads a Tagalog-language graphic posted on Facebook on April 27 and shared more than 15,000 times.

It features the logo of the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and photos of a man and woman flaunting 1,000-peso bills.

The graphic was shared on a Facebook page called "DSWD Ayuda 10K 2022".

"Ayuda" means "aid" in Tagalog, while the purported handout of 10,000 pesos is equivalent to $190.

The post also links to a website that shows a "payouts schedule" by date and region.

Screenshot of the false post taken on May 1, 2022

The graphic circulated widely on Facebook, including here and here, as the archipelago geared up to vote in May 9 elections.

Some social media users appeared to believe the posts showed a genuine financial aid scheme.

"I hope I receive the cash handout for the sake of my three children," one person commented.

"There are four voters in our family, I hope you can also send us the handout," another said.

However, the DSWD said the posts were a scam.

"It is not true that the DSWD is giving a 10,000-peso cash handout to voters," a representative from the agency's social marketing service told AFP.

Imposter account

They said the "DSWD Ayuda 10K 2022" Facebook page was "not affiliated with the Department".

The DSWD's official Facebook page features a blue verification badge and was created on September 7, 2010.

However, the scam page is not verified and was created on April 26, 2022.

The DSWD imposter account (left) and the DSWD's official Facebook page (right)

Furthermore, the photos of a man and a woman holding 1,000-peso bills were taken from a Facebook post from the agriculture department for Central Luzon region in February 2022 about rice farmers who received aid from the government.

The photos of a man and woman in the scam post (left) and in a post about rice farmers receiving financial aid (right)

AFP previously debunked a scam promising cash handouts for mothers in the Philippines during a Covid-19 lockdown.

Philippine elections 2022