How UGX 15 Billion Was Lost in Cyber Fraud Last Year

Peter Babyesiza, an independent cyber analyst, says that cyber cases will keep rising because the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many people to forge ways of working from home.
AIGP Grace Akullo

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More than 15 Billion Shillings was lost last year through cyber fraud, according to Criminal Investigations Directorate, headed by Grace Akullo.

To be exact, CID indicates that 15.9 billion shillings were lost by telecom companies, banks, ministries and individuals. Akullo indicates that this was the biggest amount of money to have ever been lost through cyber cases in a single year.

CID lists the unauthorized access to Pegasus technologies, an aggregator of MTN Uganda, Airtel Uganda, Stanbic Bank and Bank of Africa as the biggest cyber scandal of last year. This incident shows 11 billion lost between October 2nd and 3rd last year.

“Following an anonymous phone call from a staff of Bank of Africa to Pegasus Technologies that there were payments off their account at MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda which they had not originated from the bank. Pegasus Technologies checked and established that they had not initiated the transactions either,” Akullo states in her report.

Police investigations show hackers successfully sent 5.5 billion shillings to 755 fraudulently registered MTN Sim Cards while 5 billion shillings was received on 877 Airtel Sim Cards.

Stanbic Bank’s online vendors’ account was impacted and the value lost was 3.1 billion shillings, Bank of Africa lost 814million shillings while Airtel’s Absa float also lost 610 million shillings.

Akullo says cyber detectives have to date only recovered 41 million shillings out of 11billion shillings lost by telecoms, banks and aggregator Pegasus. At least nine suspects were apprehended and charged regarding this scandal.

To date, CID is still investigating the Pegasus, banks and telecoms saga with the hope of recovering the money. These cases are being investigated on case references CID Headquarters, E 329/2020, E 332 /2020, E 330/2020, E 331/2020 and GEF 998/2020.

Peter Babyesiza, an independent cyber analyst, says that cyber cases will keep rising because the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many people to forge ways of working from home.

Babyesiza explains that people have found themselves having to use electronic gadgets but they have not been equipped with skills to secure their gadgets such as mobile phones, laptops and individual electronic accounts.

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Babyesiza explains that people should be worried because cybercrime is on the rise year in year out. CID records show there has been a persistent increase in cyber cases. Last year the cases increased from 248 in 2019 to 256 while the money lost also increased from 5billion shillings in 2019 to 15 billion.

Money lost to computer crimes stood at 600 million shillings from 198 cases in 2018 while overall cases of 2017 were 158. Basing on last year’s incident where only 72 million was recovered out of 15 billion shillings stolen through hacking.

Akullo explains that recovering money stolen through cyber is never an easy task. She lists the City centre as the epicentre of cyber and economic crimes. 

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Police say cybercrime is difficult to investigate and recover money lost because victims take time to detect and by the time they report, the culprits have already used the money. CID detectives also reveal that a ministry was hacked last year and its over 3 billion shillings was intercepted in Morocco.

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