5 February 2013

Tanzania: Five Firms Probed Over Cyber Fraud

AMID a rising wave of electronic fraud incidents, the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam has allowed police to conduct investigations against five companies suspected to be the source of such crimes in the country.

Senior Resident Magistrate Ilvin Mgeta ruled against the companies, Tripple D Limited, Office Maxx, Sabbre Secretarial Bureau, Lindi Enterprises and Jombez Enterprises, on February 1, after granting an application lodged by police, on behalf of the Republic.

It is alleged that electronic fraud is committed using computers by falsifying customers' details, particularly on banks and other financial institutions in order to move money from one electronic device to another.

The police had applied to the court to order a senior official from the Criminal Investigations Department at Headquarters to inspect, seize and have access to computer data systems, services and any other information storage hardware belonging to the companies for reasons of investigations.

In his affidavit to support the application, Superintendent of Police (SP) Suleiman Nyakulinga, stated that he was among police detectives from the CID head office in the city, investigating electronic fraud. According to the affidavit, the police official was dealing with electronic fraud transactions against the companies "purported to have its origin from the computers, scanners and other electronic devices owned by the companies in question."

"Electronic fraud is a serious offence under which the court has powers imposed by Section 63B of the Proceeds of Crimes Act, to give order to have access to computer data systems, network and services," SP Nyakulinga stated.

According to Dr Zakayo Ndobir Lukumay, a lecturer on Cyber and Economic Crimes at the School of Law, there is no offence called electronic fraud under the Tanzania law, but police investigations focus on collecting cyber forensic evidence on crimes such as forgery, conspiracy and money laundering.

A book titled 'Electronic Transactions and the Law of Evidence in Tanzania' of which Dr Lukumay is a co-author, shows that the increasing incidents of fraud and theft committed through electronic payment systems are currently alarming in Tanzania.

These incidents, the book reads, constantly lead to unauthorized access to customers' money kept in banks, the consequences being huge financial losses to consumers transacting banking business in electronic form.

It says that the consequences of these flaws are that consumers using retail e-banking have on many occasions suffered financial losses. This work analyzes the legal framework on e-banking in Tanzania in order to explore the extent to which it protects consumers using an array of electronic distribution channels.

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