Kampala | RedPepper Digital – Seven people have been arrested in Kampala for allegedly stealing over Shs 5 billion through a fraudulent online banking system.
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 withdrawing money from various personal bank accounts.
A detective who was part of the operations said that the suspects often call the targeted victims, pretending to be employees of telecom companies who want to upgrade subscriber 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have fallen prey to such antics say that they had never subscribed to any online banking service, but their money was withdrawn through the same platforms.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 Shs 800 million from different accounts in Equity bank was stolen this month and several other banks had together reported thefts amounting to Shs 5 billion over the last three months.
“We have registered other cases from other banks that have lost money, between Shs 3 and Shs 7 billion using the same method by these fraudsters. We’re currently tracing other suspects still at large,” said Charles Twiine, the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) spokesperson.
Twiine 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.
Earlier in May this year, four people were arrested for attempting to steal Shs 43 million from the account of President Museveni’s brother Gen Salim Saleh in Stanbic bank.
The suspects; Isima Katende, Mawejje Yahaya, Mukasa Tukiko, and Steven Ssemwogere allegedly hacked into Saleh’s email account and gave an express instruction to the bank manager to effect payment on select telephone numbers.