Seven people have been arrested for allegedly defrauding over five billion Shillings through the online banking system in Kampala.
The suspects were identified as Fred Sitakyange, Ephraim Bagambe, Allan Juuko, Bairon Ndyamuhaki, Peter Katumba, Erasmus Mutambi and Ronald Bashijja.
They were picked up in separate intelligence led-operations that were conducted at Mutaasa-Kafeero arcade, E-Tower building, and Cooper-Complex in Kampala on Wednesday and Thursday, following reports about a group of people who were fraudulently drawing money from various personal accounts.
A detective who was part of the operations told Uganda Radio Network that the suspects often call targeted victims pretending to be employees of telecom companies who want to upgrade customer’s sim cards for better performance. In the process, they trick them into releasing their passwords and subsequently hack into the online banking system.
“These are fraudsters, who specialize in computer usage and banking systems. They create stories that they are working with the telecommunication company, and unfortunately, so many Ugandans succumb and give them all the information they ask for, the officer said.”
Some of the victims who have fallen prey to such antics say that they had never subscribed to any online banking service, but their money was withdrawn through the same platforms. But according to Police, the fraudsters use the information they get to manipulate phones and access other services including registering for online banking, in the event that the owner of the phone is not registered.
Sometimes, they steal the phone and manipulate the system until they are able to withdraw money from the owner’s bank account. Police have also recovered hundreds of phones and computers that were used to effect the transactions.
According to police, over 800 million Shillings from different accounts in Equity Bank were stolen this month and several other banks had together reported thefts amounting to Sh5b over the last three months.
“We have registered other cases from other banks that have lost money, between 3-7 billion shillings using the same method by these fraudsters. We’re currently tracing other suspects still at large, Charles Twine, the Criminal Investigations Directorate-CID spokesperson said, and asked banks to have stringent and formidable measures to safeguard people’s money.
Twine notes that the suspects have recorded statements as part of the investigations and that they will appear before the courts on charges of fraud. He says police have created robust teams to trace and apprehend such criminals.
In May this year, four people were arrested for attempting to steal 43 million Shillings from the account of General Salim Saleh in Stanbic Bank Uganda.
The suspects; Isima Katende, Mawejje Yahaya, Mukasa Tukiko, and Steven Ssemwogere allegedly hacked into General Saleh’s email account and gave an express instruction to the Bank Manager to effect payment on select telephone numbers.