Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

17 February 2013

Tanzania: Teachers Main Victims of ATM Scam - Police

POLICE investigations countrywide have established that most victims of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) scam are teachers who have tendency of dispatching their relatives to withdraw money after their salaries are credited in their accounts.

Zonal Crime Officer in Dar es Salaam Special Zone, ACP Ahmed Msangi, told the 'Sunday News', that investigations have revealed that most victims are robbed by their own family members. "Such ATM thefts are at family level, as often their relatives get to know their ATM accounts' passwords," according to ACP Msangi.

According to him, this is substantiated by the fact that such cases opened by police are often withdrawn after the victims have discovered that the suspects are their relatives. But he could not specify the number of cases on ATM thefts that involve family members that have so far been reported to police.

He, however, said that generally ATM cases have dropped from 30 cases in 2011 to 15 last year. Police in Dar es Salaam recently arrested a person who was about to steal from an ATM machine at Tabata area in Dar es Salaam.

According to the Ilala Regional Police Commander (RPC), Ms Marietha Minangi, the suspect, whose identity was not immediately known, has been committing such crimes for a long time in different banks in the city and that he is part of a syndicate involved in a wave of ATM thefts in the country.

"The suspect is assisting the police with their investigations," she said. Ms Minangi said the suspect, whose charge sheet is with the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), told the police that he learnt about ATM theft techniques in Bulgaria. He also admitted carrying out several such crimes in the city.

According to eyewitnesses, the suspect had been struggling to manipulate the ATM system at several banks in the city, drawing the attention of a security guard, who suspected something unusual was going on, as the screen display appeared to have strange markings other than the normal display.

He then stormed into the ATM stall to establish what the suspect was doing and immediately raised alarm. Bank customers who were waiting for their turn to use the ATM facility responded and arrested the suspect.

The 'Sunday News' recently carried out a survey and established that ATM thefts had hit several banks in Dar es Salaam and other regions, including Mwanza and Arusha. ATM theft in the country is a new experience and authorities have advised financial institutions to institute measures aimed to prevent such thefts.

Several banks had also paid colossal amounts of money as compensation to their clients who have had their money stolen by ATM thieves. Unconfirmed reports say the banks have lost 800m/- in compensation payments to affected customers.

An ICT expert, Mr John Kyaruzi, had told the 'Sunday News' that the system can be easily manipulated, since they can easily dismantle and install their own devices to launch a theft.

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