Tag: crime

By Shanice Naidoo for IOL

A Bloubergstrand man had his Absa business account swindled out of R3.1 million while he was in Miami for two months.
Feruccio Ferucci left Cape Town in October without suspecting that his banking information had been stolen.

Around the end of October, his Vodacom SIM card stopped working as well as his internet banking. Growing suspicious, he contacted his daughter in Cape Town to find out from Vodacom what had happened. They informed her that a SIM swap had been done.

“I did not authorise the SIM swap. My phone stopped working for about three weeks and then started working again.

“I haven’t heard anything from Vodacom telling me what happened because my phone just started working again three weeks later,” said Ferucci.

When he returned on December 2, he was shocked to find out from his staff about transactions which were not approved by them at his business in Paarl or by himself. These were fraudulent transactions which had gone off the business account during two of the weeks which his phone had not been working equating to R3.1m.

“These transactions were around R300 000 each and there were about ten transactions. I then contacted my attorney and he referred me another attorney who specialises in this type of crime. I then wrote a protest letter to Absa threatening to close my account with them and my money was refunded around December 23,” said Ferucci.

On speaking to the new attorney, he was told that this was often done to people who are overseas because perpetrators assume one would not check their phone regularly.

“The attorney told me that 90% of the cases he deals with involved people who went overseas. There is no doubt in my mind that what happened to me was promoted by employees of both Vodacom and Absa.

“They probably didn’t steal the money but they probably sell the information,” said Ferucci.

Both Absa and Vodacom have said they are investigating the matter.

IRS Forensic Investigations, which investigates financial, organised and cyber crimes director Chad Thomas said sim swaps are a major issue, with some victims reporting that they have become victims of crime while their phones have been off while they have been travelling long distances.

However, the breach of personal data, including credit card numbers is not just confined to individual hacks via trojans or malware but is also as a result of highly sophisticated cyber attacks on data stored by corporates.

“People need to take cognisance of the fact that a sufficiently determined and capable hacker can take over someone’s online footprint if the correct measures are not taken to protect their information. However, it is not just the individual that needs to take precautions, but also corporates that are storing client’s information and have a responsibility to safeguard that information,” said Thomas.

Source: IT News Africa

As South Africa’s business sector continues to expand across a myriad of digital platforms, cybercrime continues to threaten this burgeoning digital sphere. “There are many victims of cybercrime, with limited recourse available in terms of current South African law. The need for tighter and more effective legislation is pressing,” says Grant Christianson, e4’s Group Legal Advisor.

The end of October 2018 hopefully saw the legislative cycle for the Cybercrimes Bill nearing completion, as the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development tabled an updated version. Christianson says that the existing laws have become problematic in adequately combatting cybercrime and the new Bill is needed to effectively “fill-the-gaps” that exist in current legislation and the common law.

“According to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), South Africa’s annual loss is estimated at R2,2 billion, making it a significant threat to an already volatile economy.”

While the Bill does no longer address cybersecurity, he says that it will provide a framework for combatting cybercrime. Initially drafted in 2015, it addresses criminal activity that is computer-based and is related to unlawful access to, interference with or distribution of data, electronic communications, information systems and networks. He says the Bill also creates new offences for hacking; phishing, cyber bullying, unlawful interception and distribution of data, ransomware, cyber forgery and extortion, as well as acts involving malware and identity theft. Anyone convicted is likely to be fined and/or imprisoned up to 15 years.

The Bill is also expected to align with international best practice: “There will be a requirement to co-operate with other countries to effectively deal with multi-jurisdictional cybercrime activity, as often the cyber offence is created in one jurisdiction and felt in another,” says Christianson.

As a country, with the third highest number of cybercrime victims worldwide, South Africa is a target. Christianson says that mobile technology will further impact users as the country’s growing reliance on the app economy and other mobile trends will drive cyber criminals to penetrate mobile networks: “As devices become more connected and smarter, users are more exposed and so the threat grows. Digitisation is a trend that has no end in sight and while it brings with it innovation and exciting changes, cybercrime continues to grow in parallel.”

While the timeframe for the Bill’s signature is uncertain, Christianson says that it is at least in its final stages and once signed into law, the law-enforcement industry can become more proactive in its pursuit of cybercriminals.

By Genevieve Quintal for Business Live

The VBS Mutual Bank is “hopelessly insolvent” and should be wound up as the purpose and object of the bank no longer exists.

This is according to the Reserve Bank’s Prudential Authority’s application to the high court in Pretoria.

The bank was placed under curatorship in March after looting by executives led to a liquidity crisis. A damning Reserve Bank report by advocate Terry Motau and Werksmans Attorneys, released earlier in October, detailed looting at VBS bank of nearly R2bn and identified the role of political players from the ANC and the EFF.

In an affidavit to the high court, Prudential AuthorityCEO Kuben Naidoo said the bank was hopelessly insolvent.

“Despite the efforts of the curator, the vortex of the black hole created by the role-players named in the investigator’s report, has resulted in the disappearance of VBS’s substratum and it being objectively impossible for VBS to achieve the purpose of its existence,” he said.

This decision will not sit well with various ANC MPs and those from the EFF who have called for the bank to be recapitalised.

During his maiden medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) last week, finance minister Tito Mboweni also indicated that the embattled bank could be saved. But Naidoo said the restatement of the 2017 financial statements, which were falsified and signed off by KPMG partner Sipho Malaba, was a monumental task for the curator, Anoosh Rooplal, to reconstruct the VBS balance sheet.

The results of this indicated that VBS’s liabilities exceed its assets and therefore it was “factually insolvent”. Naidoo said there was no possibility that VBS would be in a position to pay its debts and there was no possibility or prospect of the bank becoming a successful concern.

Rooplal also determined that curatorship was no longer viable for VBS.

It was necessary to bring an end to the curatorship as it would enable a liquidator to utilise the mechanisms provided by the insolvency and company law legislation, to recover monies from recipients in terms of void and impeachable transactions.

Naidoo said that after receiving a letter from the curator and after considering the investigator’s report he, in consultation with the governors of the Reserve Bank, determined that VBS must be placed in final winding up. “VBS is hopelessly insolvent and massive frauds have been perpetrated against it. There is no prospect of entering into any resolution plan in respect of VBS.”

The present activities relating to VBS are primarily directed at recoveries resulting from the thefts and frauds addressed in the Motau’s report, he said, adding that in the circumstances, it would not serve any purpose to grant a provisional winding-down order, as the conclusion of the “hopeless financial position” and the conduct of those who managed VBS, was unavoidable

He has asked the court to hear the urgent application to finally liquidate VBS on November 13, and has also asked the high court to appoint Rooplal as the liquidator as he has been inextricably involved in the affairs of VBS for the past seven months.

Source: MyBroadband

If your bank card gets stolen and you cancel it, this does not automatically mean that all payments from it will be blocked.

This was the case when two FNB customers contacted MyBroadband about their frustrating experiences with the bank.

The customers both had their FNB bank cards stolen in different scenarios – and both contacted FNB to have their cards cancelled.

Despite cancelling the cards, both users noted small payments still going off their bank accounts via card transactions.

The charges were toll gate fees.

In one case, the customer reportedly asked FNB why the cancelled card could still make transactions. He said he was told by FNB that he would have to blacklist the card, on top of cancelling it, to stop the transactions.

In the other case, the customer stated that all he could do was get a refund for the toll gate fees.

This customer subsequently contacted the toll gates where his card was being used to ask them to block transactions on it.

He also managed to obtain an image of the vehicle using his stolen card – it was a white Toyota minibus taxi with a Gauteng registration.

FNB responds
MyBroadband contacted FNB for feedback on the matter, and the bank confirmed that the bank cards were cancelled as described above.

“Unfortunately, due to toll gate merchants operating in an offline environment, this prevents them from obtaining authorisation from the bank for transactions of this nature. As a result, additional transactions were posted,” said FNB.

“The customer will not incur any loss resulting from fraud in this scenario.”

FNB was asked what a bank customer should do to ensure their cancelled card is not used to make these types of transactions, but the bank did not provide feedback.

Offline transactions
According to PASA (Payments Association of South Africa) documents, lost and stolen card fraud at toll gates has been highlighted as a significant concern in recent years.

“Although toll card transactions are a card present transaction, fast throughput of vehicles is important and transactions are thus processed in an offline and delayed manner – cleared in batch,” states PASA.

“Importantly, unlike any other offline card present card transactions, toll gate transactions are not verified by the cardholder in any way.”

It added that while toll gate transactions are checked against the “Hot Card” file, this “only contains a limited number of all lost and stolen card details”.

By Andile Sicetsha for The South African

The South African Police Service’s (SAPS) cybercrime unit has been forced to drop investigations into hundreds of cases because software licenses have not been paid.

A report in the Sunday Times revealed that investigations into organised crimes, hacking and EFT scams have been halted due to expired software licenses for equipment used to decode and interpret cellphone data.

Other forensic capabilities have also been hindered by this. Data that would’ve been vital in the trial of alleged Islamic State members, Aslam Del Vecchio and Fatima Patel, is not available because of this.

Earlier this year, a service provider appointed by the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) threatened to halt essential services due to lack of payment, and the parliamentary portfolio committee on police said several police and SITA agreements were major security risks.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, a source with knowledge of the cybercrime unit’s operations said the police were migrating from technology that could be used in the field to a solution which tied officers to their desks.

In the past, investigators used a system called Cellebrite Touch. This was a device that could be used to interpret cellphone data in the field. It was quick and efficient.

This time, however, it seems that the unit has been moved to a desktop system, meaning that there would be a larger gap in turnaround times, and in this form of crime, time is everything.

Craig Pederson, the head of digital forensics at Computer Guyz, expressed the importance of the work conducted by the cybercrime unit.

“We live in an age where technology is used broadly and plays a definite role in many of the more serious crimes. The unit is a vital link in the complex task of collecting evidence”, Pederson stated.

Brenda Muridili, the SAPS’ spokesperson, could only state that the police would not be commenting on the issue.

“We are not able to disclose any information with regard to covertly required IT solutions”, she said.

This years crime stats show alarming trends

By Andile Sicetsha for The South African

The nation is abuzz on Tuesday after the South African Police Service announced, on Twitter, that it would be publishing the country’s crime stats for the period of 2017/2018.

This year has already seen a marked increased in violent crimes like cash-in-transit heists and child murders and abductions.

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, addressed the media at the Imbizo Room in Parliament, Cape Town, and as much as there is quite enough to be worried about, the stats also saw a decrease in marked areas of concern.

Crimes that have increased
South Africa has seen a 1 320 increase in murders, from 19 016 in 2016/2017 to 20 336 in 2017/2018. An average of 57 people are killed a day in the country, 46 of which are men, eight women and two children. This shows an increase from the average of 52 murder deaths a day in 206/2017.
The murder rate is up by 6.9% in 2017/2018.
Attempted murder also saw a slight 0.2% increase from 18 205 in 2016/2017 to 18 205 in 2017/2018.
Cash-in-transit heists are up to 238 in 2017/2018, from 152 last year and 137 in 2015.
Western Cape still sits highest on the list of crimes reported at police stations. Nyanga remains the most notorious area in the country, infamous for its gang violence, while Gauteng has seen a marked increase in taxi violence.
The murders of women and children have also seen a notable increase, up by 146 reported cases.
291 more women have been murdered in this period, 291 more than last year, with 117 boys and 29 girls.
Crimes committed on farms have been released but there is no indication whether or not this shows an increase or a decrease.
62 farm murders have been reported for this year; 33 house robberies, six attempted murders, two reported rape cases, two cases of stock theft, two robberies with a firearm, one carjacking incident and one reported kidnapping.

Crimes that have decreased
Robbery with aggravating circumstances dropped by 1.8% to 138 364 this year from 140 956 in 2016/2017.
Common robbery also saw a notable decrease of 5% from 53 418 in 2016/2017 to 50 730 in 2017/2018.
Assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm went down by 1.9%, from 170 616 in 2016/2017 to 167 352 in 2017/2018.
Common assault cases also dropped by 0.1% in 2017/2018 to 156 243, from 156 450.
The most notable crime numbers
The most notable changes that we have seen so far are the marked increases in crimes related to cash-in-transit heists, murders, The Western Cape’s persisting problem with gang violence, the increase in crimes against women and children, and of course, farm murders.

Cash-in-transit heists
It was revealed that CIT heists are up by 0.7% this year. Meaning that 76 more incidents have occurred this year alone. Cele has made this one of his primary concerns this year.

Although very recently, the SAPS appeared to be winning the battle against CIT syndicates, the numbers are not looking good.

Western Cape’s ongoing battle with gang violence
In the murder category, Nyanga police station came up on top of the list where most murder cases were reported in 2017/2018.

Compared to the period of April 2016 and March 2017, where 281 cases were reported, the period of 2017/2018 saw an increase of 9.6%.

27 more murder cases were reported at this station and most of them have been attributed to the growing problem of gang violence in the province.

Crimes against women and children
This stat will probably affect South Africans the most. As much as many organisations tried to bring this problem to the forefront with protests and ongoing discussions of violence against women and children in the public forum, the numbers were up by 146 reported cases in 2017/2018.

Farm murders
Much of the controversy that surrounds this stat is based on the reported number of farm killings that have been perpetuated by organisations like AfriForum.

According to the crime stats, 62 reported farm killings have occurred in 2017/2018.

Cash-in-transit heists cost SA R1bn

By Kyle Cowan for News24 

More than R1bn has been “lost” as a result of cash-in-transit robberies in the eight years between 2008 and 2016, according to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI).

The DPCI, or the Hawks as they are more commonly known, granted a Public Access to Information Application (PAIA) lodged by News24, providing a five-page document that is apparently part of a presentation on cash-in-transit robberies.

According to the document, the highest cash losses were reported in 2014, a total of R213.9m and R187.7m in 2016.

“A total of R 1 071 430 410 cash amount was lost to the illicit market for the period under review,” the document reads.

It also provides a year-by-year breakdown of the various types of robberies committed.

Cross-pavement robberies were the highest reported with 1 163 incidents in the same period, followed by robberies on retail premises at 606 incidents.

Vehicle-on-road incidents total 180 in this period.

Military precision

“CIT (cash-in-transit) robbery networks are highly organised, well-resourced and operate with military precision,” the document states.

“CIT networks can form and dissolve according to the nature of the mission they are undertaking.”

The document adds that the cash-in-transit networks are usually orchestrated by a mastermind, or kingpin. The heists are usually planned well in advance and mostly rely on insider information.

“CIT robbery networks are loosely structured, dynamic and flexible networks as opposed to the traditional structured or hierarchical mafia-type groups. Except for the mastermind and a couple of trusted confidantes that may be repeatedly involved, the foot soldiers will rarely be repeatedly involved in every CIT robbery,” it continues.

It also details that, according to circumstantial evidence, cash-in-transit robbery networks in South Africa operate on a national level and a few groups or networks are responsible for the majority of cash-in-transit robbery incidents throughout the country.

Irresponsible disclosure

CEO of the South African Banking Risk Information Centre Kalyani Pillay told News24 the institution works closely with the Hawks and its statistics on record were similar to those presented to News24 by the Hawks.

“Unfortunately, we do not disclose losses as they are subject to rigorous audits so that they can be sued in an aggravation of sentence. This means that the values are subject to change, depending on the outcome of the audit,” Pillay said.

“In addition, we believe it is irresponsible to disclose losses, as it only serves to stimulate the criminal’s appetite to perpetuate this type of crime,” she added.

At the time of writing the Hawks had not respocfnded to detailed questions over whether it had the necessary resources to deal with the cash-in-transit robbery networks its own background document referenced.

10 tips to avoid a smash-and-grab

A smash-and-grab incident plays on the elements of speed and surprise. The opportunists usually smash through the car window on the passenger side while the car is stationary or stuck in slow moving traffic. The sudden shock causes a few moments of silent paralysis for the motorists and this gives them just enough time to grab something of value like a jacket, handbag or a laptop before they flee the scene.

Be alert when you are driving alone and follow these tips to ensure you don’t become a victim of a smash-and-grab incident.

1. Be alert. Criminals tend to target those that are distracted – usually on their phones or smoking a cigarette. Women drivers are also more at risk and should be particularly vigilant when stopping at traffic lights.

2. Put away your valuables. When thieves can see valuables from outside the vehicle, you are definitely a target. Make sure you don’t have purses, handbags, sunglasses, laptop bags, mobile phones, MP3 players and tablets lying on the passenger seat or in plain sight. Stow your belongings in the boot before you get into the car.

3. Always keep all doors locked.

4. Keeping windows very slightly open makes them more difficult to break. If your windows are struck by a spark plug, having them slightly open will provide more resilience. Don’t open your windows or talk to street vendors at intersections.

5. Be vigilant. People loitering at intersections, particularly if there are no businesses in the immediate surroundings, are suspicious.

6. When driving at night, try driving in the middle lane as criminals tend to hide in the bushes/grass next to the side lanes. When approaching traffic lights, slow down and try to reach it only as it turns green. If that isn’t possible, stop at a distance from the light as this will give you room to move.

7. If you see any obstacles in the road such as rocks or tyres do not get out of your car to move them. Rather, turn around and drive away. Opportunists may be waiting for you to get out to steal your vehicle or its contents.

8. Leave a vehicle length between you and the car in front of you to give you room for an emergency escape.

9. Some areas are notorious for smash-and-grab incidents. Be particularly careful whenever you see broken glass lying on the road – chances are that a smash-and-grab happened recently.

10. You can fit your window with protective smash-and-grab film, which is usually tinted so that no one can see into the car, while also preventing the windows from shattering. Although smash-and-grab film won’t prevent incidents from taking place, it will give you a few extra minutes to compose yourself and drive away.

British man in Bitcoin heist

Armed robbers broke into the family home of a city financier turned Bitcoin trader and forced him to transfer the digital currency at gunpoint, in what is believed to be the first heist of its kind in the UK.

Four robbers in balaclavas forced their way into the home of Danny Aston, 30, who runs a digital currency trading firm, before reportedly tying up a woman and forcing Mr Aston to transfer an unknown quantity of the cryptocurrency.

Mr Aston lives in the picturesque village of Moulsford in South Oxfordshire, where episodes of Midsomer Murders have been filmed, in a rented four-bedroom converted barn estimated to be worth at least £700,000 on a private drive.

Police were called at around 9.40am on Monday to attend the home after raiders are reported to have entered the property by kicking down the door.

The Mail on Sunday reported that the men tied up a woman and kept a baby outside in a pram while forcing Mr Aston to transfer the Bitcoin. The value of a single Bitcoin is now around £8,000.

A neighbour confirmed on Sunday the property where the violent burglary took place, but said that Mr Aston and a woman believed to be his partner left Moulsford on Monday to stay with relatives and have not returned.

They said: “I was not here at the time, but I know the couple have left and are staying with relatives, they haven’t been back since.

“We are all obviously a bit shaken up, even though a few days have passed now. It is not what you expect to happen around here.”

Mr Aston – who lives with his 31-year-old business partner Amy Jay, according to the latest Companies House records – previously worked at Trayport, a London-based financial software company that operates a platform for trading energy commodities.

In June 2017, he established his own digital currency firm just before Bitcoin’s huge surge in value in July, according to Companies House.

Both Mr Aston and Ms Jay are listed online as directors of Aston Digital Currencies Ltd, and a company called Butler Hosting, which specialises in “data processing, hosting and related activities”.

A user named Danny Aston has previously been active on trading site Poloniex, which allows users to trade and store digital currency.

A local resident described the victim of the attack as well-known, but suggested that the small village community had been left dazed by the news.

“Everyone is shocked I think,” he said. “We think we live in a safer space, and then this happens and everyone gets scared.”

The village of Moulsford is home to two schools and a girl from Cranford House Prepatory School described how the students were told to get to safety as the armed robbery happened nearby.

She said: “We were all told to get down on the floor and stay in the middle of the schoolroom. All the curtains were closed and the doors locked. No-one knew what was going on but it was scary to say the least.”

Bitcoin is a digital currency that allows users to trade anonymously and securely across the internet without regulation or a central bank

It is understood that although Bitcoin’s secrecy will make the theft in Moulsford much more difficult for the police to investigate, there is a chance that the stolen currency will appear on the market as thieves try to exchange it into conventional money.

In the last 12 months, Bitcoin’s value has risen over 1000 per cent. It hit an all-time high on 17th December, when it was worth over £13,500.

A police spokesman said: “Thames Valley Police is investigating an aggravated burglary which occurred at a property in Moulsford on Monday.

“Officers were called at about 9.40am to a report that offenders had entered a residential property off Reading Road and threatened the occupants. No one was seriously injured during the incident.

“An investigation into the incident is underway and officers attended nearby Moulsford School as a precautionary measure. It is not believed there was a threat to anyone at the school.

“Officers are particularly interested in speaking to anyone travelling through the village on the A329 Reading Road between 7.30am and 10.30am on Monday who has Dashcam footage or anyone with mobile phone footage.

“People in the local community may notice an increased presence of officers in the area while our enquiries are ongoing. The investigation is in its early stages however initial enquiries suggest this may be a targeted incident.

“No arrests have been made at this stage.”

By Tony Diver for The Telegraph 

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