Kenya: Police Investigate Hacks on Local Banks as Cyber Fraud Fears Mount

30 January 2019

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on Wednesday issued arrest warrants for 130 people in connection with electronic fraud by hacking into commercial bank systems.

Police sought the suspects a day after the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) urged lenders to brace for risks technology poses to their operations, heightening fears about the rising cases of cybercrime in financial institutions.

The DCI's Economic Crimes Unit said in a notice in local dailies the suspects had engaged in banking fraud between last June and January this year and sought public help for their immediate arrest.

"The suspects are wanted in connection with electronic fraud by hacking into banks systems. Any person with information on their whereabouts should contact the DCI headquarters or the nearest police station," said the DCI.

A detective, who spoke anonymously so as not to interfere with investigations, said the rise in cyber fraud targeting financial institutions had been on a significant rise prompting security agencies to ramp up investigations and arrests to address the menace.

"The amounts involved are staggering," said the DCI officer referring to massive losses banks incur every year.

Financial institutions in Kenya have recently become a soft target for cybercriminals, with police records showing that they lost about Sh17 billion to the fraudsters in 2016, up from Sh14 billion in 2015.

On Tuesday, CBK governor Patrick Njoroge reiterated warnings to financial institutions saying local lenders are exposed to cyber attacks and fraud.

Dr Njoroge urged banks to increase resilience to IT failures and cyber security incidents including organised fraud.

On Wednesday, Godfrey Simiyu Katiambo, a former Chase Bank client, whose account was frozen last year in June for receiving Sh150,000 from an anonymous source was among those DCI listed as suspects.

"I co-operated with them before and I will even now," he said.

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