Kenya: Leader of ATMs Cybercrime Gang and His Accomplices Arrested

22 October 2019

Bank customers may have been losing millions of shillings from ATMs courtesy of a gang that has infiltrated the country's banking system and steals money from cash dispensing machines without the need for cards.

With a special pack of keys and some insider knowledge, the criminals are able to reconfigure ATMs to dispense the amounts they want.

MAIN SUSPECT

Robert Mwaura Mwita was arrested by the DCI on Sunday night as the main suspect behind the theft of millions of shillings in a similar manner.

The DCI said the suspect had recruited guards manning several ATMs to withdraw the money after sending them secret codes.

"Upon withdrawing the money conned from unsuspecting members of the public, the guards have been taking their agreed upon portion and sending the rest to Mwaura," the DCI said.

Detectives also arrested two guards namely Stanley Nyakundi and Godfrey Masinde Simiyu who, in of September alone, sent over Sh2.2 million to Mwaura. The suspects will take pleas today (Tuesday).

Cases of unsuspecting Kenyans losing their money to cybercriminals have been on the rise with the Kenya Cyber Security Report by Serianu consultancy showing that Kenya lost Sh21.1 billion to cybercrime in 2017, a 40 per cent increase from Sh15.1 billion in 2015. In January this year, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations published images of 21 suspects wanted for hacking into banking systems.

A few months later, customers banking with a popular bank in the country raised concern over the theft of their savings via the internet.

SCAMMERS

Kenya Bankers Association CEO Habil Olaka however said banks had adjusted their ATMs and that the reported cases were isolated.

"The cases are not a reflection of an industry issue. They are isolated and minimal," said Mr Olaka.

Last month, 281 cybercriminals, among them Kenyans, were arrested after a four month crackdown targeting online scammers.

According to the United States Department of Justice, the criminals were targeting individuals and companies that perform wire transfers to foreign business partners and suppliers.

The suspects were often targeting real estate buyers and the elderly by convincing them to make wire transfers to bank accounts controlled by the criminals.

"This is often accomplished by impersonating a key employee or business partner after obtaining access to that person's email account or sometimes done through romance and lottery scams," the department stated in a press release.

Kenya ranks second in Africa and 44th globally in the 2018 Global Cyber Security Index.

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