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Twelve jailed in Rwanda for hacking into a bank's computer system

By Noir July 10, 2021, 2:29 p.m.

The first known hacking incident was reported in America's Chicago area. This was in 1967  when members of a computer club got access to IBM's APL network. Ever since, cases of hacking have been reported almost on every corner of the world, including Africa. Last week, a group of 12 hackers were jailed in Rwanda for cyber-related crimes.

12 hackers jailed in Rwanda: Eight Kenyans, three Rwandans and a Ugandan

In 2019, a group of 12 hackers were arrested in Rwanda. Eight Kenyans, three Rwandans and a Ugandan were arrested while trying to hack into Equity bank computers to steal cash. According to reports, the 12 had tormented other banks in Kenya and Uganda before crossing the border into Rwanda. Furthermore, the Kenyan suspects were believed to be behind some  big scams in their country involving large sums of money.

The hackers were on security radar and Rwandan officials were notified when they set foot there and opened a shop. So in 2019,they were cornered. Their case had previously been postponed due to Covid-19 protocols in the country.

On 2 July 2021, they were convicted of criminal mischief or misdemeanor. Another ground upon which they were convicted is using computers to get unauthorised access to information. And finally, they were convicted of changing the bank's computer network, or stealing. The court found them guilty and slapped them with eight years in prison. Also, they were fined $49,600 in damage and another $3,000 for other related charges.

The hackers, with the help of insiders, were able to identify targets with huge deposits. As a result, they easily intercepted the lender's 14 branch network and wrote scripts. This was to help them move money to several accounts of accomplices.

They attempted hacking through the Eazzy banking platform. However, the platform had been intercepted by the bank and security agents. Authorities had been aware of the operations of the hackers. These included recruitment of Rwandans they would use to withdraw the funds.
Cyber crime in Rwanda and East Africa
Rwanda, one of the smallest countries in East Africa, has seen a tremendous growth in cyber crime. From just 47 cases in 2017 to now more than 300 cases yearly, the country isn't on the safer side.

The Rwandan convictions therefore come at a time the region is experiencing a high rate of cyberattacks. Security agents within the region have since called for a collaboration. This will help them apprehend networks of cross border cartels hacking into bank systems. In the region, Kenya is one of the countries with a highly digitised economy linked with mobile money. This has made her a target for cyber-related crimes and online fraud.

Kirongothi, one of the criminals, had skipped bail in another case where he was accused of hacking into a bank and stealing $80,000. Another member of the same gang, identified as Gatwiri was also on the run. He had been accused of hacking into a Sidian bank and stealing more than $21,000.

In other separate cases, two Kenyans were also freed from Rwandan jails after serving time for various crimes. Charles Kinuthia was released after serving two years for fraud and paying a fine of $3,300. Another Kenyan, Asman Macharia was convicted in 2016 for child trafficking.

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