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Eight Kenyans jailed in Rwanda for hacking Equity bank systems

Eight Kenyans who were among twelve people arrested in Rwanda for attempting to hack into Equity Bank, Rwanda clients’ accounts have been jailed.

The eight, according to the Rwanda Investigative Bureau (RIB) were found guilty of various cybercrime-related offences and sentenced to eight years.

The eight Kenyans are Dedan Muchoki Muriuki, Samuel Wachira Nyuguto, Kinyua Erickson Macharia, Godfrey Gachiri Githinji, Eric Dickson Njagi Mutegi, Reuben Kirogothi Mwangi, Damaris Njeri Kamau, and Steve Maina Wambugu.

They were convicted of criminal mischief or misdemeanor, computer access to information intended to commit a crime, change of computer information or network, unauthorized computer access, and stealing.

The court further directed the 12 to collectively reimburse Equity Rwanda a total of 56,525,439 Rwandan Francs (Sh6 million) for expenses related to the crime committed.

The suspects are said to have successfully conducted similar hacks in both Kenya and Uganda before travelling to Rwanda to attempt the same, but unknown to them, they were under surveillance and caught in the act, the RIB said.

Reports indicate some of the Kenyan suspects have also been on the radar of Kenyan authorities for cyber-related crimes within the country.

Kirongothi is alleged to have jumped bail in a court case where he was accused of hacking into a Kenyan bank and stealing Sh80 million while Njagi similarly stole Sh2.7 million.

Gachiri, a former Standard Group employee, was accused of electronically stealing Sh21.5 million in 2016 from Sidian Bank. The case was dropped after the money was recovered.

Last year, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) put Kenya on the radar as a source of scams and destination of funds obtained from cyber financial fraud.

The new Interpol report released on August 14 on online organised crime in Africa showed how digitization is making it easier for criminals, and Interpol ranks Kenya among the countries where transnational criminal organisations operate.

The report estimates that Kenyans lost Sh21 billion to cyber and cyber-enabled crimes in 2017.

The economic loss in Africa due to cyber-attacks reached Sh350 billion.

The report further revealed that cybercrime losses in Kenya reportedly amounted to an estimated $295 million in 2018, with Business Email Compromise (BEC) being one of the main ways used to defraud local businesses.

Criminals hack and impersonate corporate email accounts to defraud companies into sending money or sensitive data to the attacker’s account.