BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Sci/Tech
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Ali Willis
"The police can only hold suspects for 36 hours"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 9 May, 2000, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Police hunt Love Bug gang
Police arresting Reonel Ramones on Monday
Police arrested Reonel Ramones on Monday
Philippines investigators say 10 people linked to a Manila computer school are suspected of creating the devastating Love Bug virus that wreaked havoc around the world last week.

The only person arrested so far, Reonel Ramones, 27, has been released while evidence, including equipment seized from his home, is investigated.

His girlfriend, Irene de Guzman, 23, who shares the apartment, is still being sought for questioning. Police said she had indicated she would hand herself in on Tuesday

Mr Ramones, who was detained on Monday following a raid on his flat in the capital, Manila, has denied any involvement with the virus.

Love Bug
The bug could cause up to $10bn damage
"What hurts is that I did not do it, and yet they are pinning me down," said Mr Ramones, an accounts graduate who works for the Equitable Bank.

"The problem here is I am not even fond of the Internet."

Criminal investigators seized a telephone, wiring and computer magazines but no computer from his home on Monday.

FBI hunt

The Love Bug virus, which created a flood of e-mails with the alluring subject line ILOVEYOU, is estimated to have caused up to several billion dollars of damage to computer systems worldwide.

Tackling the virus
Do not open it
Delete it using shift del
As with all e-mails, if in doubt do not run any attachments you are not expecting
If you have run the attachment, isolate your machine from any network and phone your help desk or seek expert advice
Remember to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date and be vigilant about attachments
FBI officials, who are helping the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) track down the programmers, are said to have found 10 coded names embedded in the virus.

The names are believed to have ties to the AMA Computer College, according to the NBI.

But they could be pseudonyms of a single person or just a few people.

A US computer security company,, said comparisons of the ILOVEYOU virus with a password-stealing programme written earlier this year indicated the author was a student at AMA Computer College.

Michelle Navarro, the school's dean of students, said she was unaware of any student having created a computer virus. She said the school had 10,000 students.

Relatives of Mr Ramones said he was innocent, adding that the virus could have been created by his girlfriend's brother or sister, both of whom live in the same apartment.

They said the sister graduated from AMA Computer College last year and the brother is a part-time student. Both are missing.


The FBI and Interpol helped track the virus to the Philippines through an electronic trail left by rogue e-mails.

Worldwide infection
5.8 million files worldwide
4.5m in North America
668,600 in Europe
358,100 in Asia
63,100 in Australia and New Zealand
Source: Trend Micro Inc

Several variations appeared soon after the virus began spreading, one masquerading as an e-mail joke, another as a receipt for a Mother's Day gift.

E-mails infected with the Love Bug reached 45 million users and could cause up to $10bn dollars of damage, according to some estimates.

But the authorities are unsure if anyone can be prosecuted, because there is no specific law in the Philippines making the dissemination of computer viruses illegal.

The warrants for the search of Mr Ramones' and Ms de Guzman's apartment were granted on the basis of a suspected breach of the banking laws.

Experts say the virus is likely to engender more variants in the coming weeks.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

09 May 00 | Americas
Defending cyberspace
04 May 00 | UK
'Love Bug' bites UK hard
15 Nov 99 | Sci/Tech
E-mail security bubble bursts
30 Mar 99 | Sci/Tech
Melissa virus goes global
06 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Why write computer viruses?
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Sci/Tech stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sci/Tech stories