A gang of Kenyan students who have been hacking foreigners’ email credit cards through email phishing, stealing money and laundering it through bitcoin, have been arrested, according to the country’s Directorate of criminal investigations (DCI).
The students create fake emails to steal the passwords and credit card information of unsuspecting victims before using the money in these credit cards to purchase bitcoin, which they then convert to Kenyan currency.
The Kenyan DCI said it arrested the criminal gang who were operating out of Milimani, an affluent estate in Nakuru City, the country’s fourth-largest city. Five laptops, 4 mobile phones, 2 WiFi gadgets, 3 hard drives, and assorted SIM cards were among the items recovered in the arrest.
The fraudsters spent the proceeds from their hacking to fund a lavish lifestyle and purchase properties. Among the documents recovered from the apartment was a land sale agreement entered on May 25 for a property valued at Ksh 850,000 ($8,000) in Juja, just close to the Kenyatta University where the students were enrolled.
Cybercrime is on the rise in Kenya with some Kenyans losing Ksh 1.18 billion($10 million) to BitStream Circle, a Ponzi scheme that surfaced in December 2021. There’s also a rise in activities of cybercrime gangs like the Forkbombo gang who scammed Kenyans of Ksh 400 million ($4 million) between 2013 and 2017.
With the launch of its $34 million forensics lab though, cybercrime in the country is expected to shrink. Kenya’s National Police Force is also working hard to enforce the country’s Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act which prescribes a 2-year jail term and $2,000 fine for anyone found guilty of manipulating a payments system to steal money.