A gang of cyber crime fraudsters linked to the recent spate of Mobile Money and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) scams, is on the run following the seizure of one of their kingpins – a woman – as the Police warn the public to be on the lookout.The Police unearthed a racket of fraudsters who connive with Internet cafe owners to defraud the unsuspecting public. One of Kampala’s most notorious computer hackers turned against her comrades because she did not want to go to prison and leave her seven-year-old daughter behind.
Top members of hacking group, Tusobola Net, literally translated as “we can handle the Internet” have fled across East Africa after their leader, a 34-year-old white lady (names withheld), turned them in. Tusobola Net is an umbrella term used in Kampala to represent an Internet subculture – a collection of online individuals, or ‘hactivists’, who share common ideas of anti-censorship and freedom of speech on the Internet.
They have carried out cyber attacks on Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards, banks and other corporate fraud. Tusobola net is linked to four Bulgarians, Ivan Ganchev, Milen Katsarski, Adrian Dimitrov and Anton Ivanov who were jailed over ATM fraud.
According to the Police, the gang is also linked to three former MTN agents, who hacked into the company’s system and swindled sh3b.
The mother of one has spent the last 17 months working as a Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Directorate (CIID) informant, revealing shocking details that led the authorities to Eva Nasozi, who has been charged in court.
On Tuesday, Nasozi, who was described as one of the ringleaders of Tusobola net, pleaded not guilty before Buganda Road Court and was remanded in Luzira Prison.
Six other members of the racket are still at large. Three operated from shopping malls on Wilson Road, while the others are Makerere University students only identified as Rash, TT and Jackson.
According to the Police, they fled to Tanzania when their leader was arrested. A preliminary Police report states that the hackers are responsible for a number of attacks on large companies, government agencies and hospitals. They are behind the loss of billions to banks, forex bureaus and agencies.
Saturday Vision learnt that the white woman worked under the alias Papa. She lives in Kololo, a quiet upscale suburb of Kampala. She was tracked down using an address from her phone print-out. Detectives put her under surveillance for weeks and arrested her after she was identified by a fellow hacker who called her by name at the golf course.
A detective said Nasozi defrauded Lloyds Forex Bureau of $2,000 about (sh5m) and KCB of $4,000 about (sh10m) in February last year. She was arrested last week. Nasozi is also accused of hacking into the email of a businessman in Kabale district, Edward Sajjabi Kamigisha, who exports artifacts. “I take photos of new paintings and send them to my client in Russia, Alexander Strallgav. He selects the pictures and pays for them via Western Union.
“Last June, after I failed to access my original email for about four months, I opened another one and mailed Strallgav asking about the pieces. He replied with a very rude message, saying I took his money and never sent him pictures,” Kamigisha added.
Apparently Nasozi had used Kamigisha’s email address to instruct Strallgav to send the money to her, saying he (Kamigisha) was in Kabale where there were no Western Union outlets. Kamigisha reported the matter to the Police who carried out investigations.
The latest Police report on economic crime indicates that a total of 9,574 cases were investigated in 2011, compared to 10,988 cases in 2010, thus a decrease by 13%. A total of 13 cyber crimes were reported to the Police,” reads the report.
According to sources, the number of cyber crimes for the year 2012/2013 will be higher because a number of cases have already been investigated.
Comment from banks and forex bureaus
Jack Kabagambe, the manager of Lloyds Forex Bureau, acknowledged having heard about Nasozi. “A CIID officer from Kabale came here last year and took details from the identity cards she used while withdrawing the money,” he said.
“She [Nasozi] withdrew the funds in installments, but according to our standard, she had all the credentials we needed,” Kabagambe said.
Cassim Namugali, the Kampala Road KCB branch manager, declined to comment. “I am not certain but I will consult and get back to you,” he said.