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19 Arrested After Equity Bank Loses Sh290 Million in Debit Card Fraud 

Detectives Tuesday arrested 19 suspects in a probe into a massive debit card fraud that saw Equity Bank lose a staggering Sh290 million. 

The suspects were rounded up by the Directorate of Criminal Investigation’s Banking Fraud Investigation Unit (BFIU).

They were taken for grilling ahead of planned arraignment and recovery.

Officials and witnesses said Extelecoms House, Haile Selassie Avenue which is the headquarters of Banking Fraud was expecting more arrests as the crackdown continues.

Cases of card fraud are on the rise in the past months with agencies being asked to be on alert.

Some of the suspects arrested last month for involvement in the crime were deported to Nigeria.

This is after they were found with cards they were using in the crime, police said.

In the latest incident, investigations show it was a case of theft by 551 Equity Bank account holders who received the funds after card fraud transactions done between April 9 and 15, 2024.

The bank’s risk department discovered an upsurge of transactions emanating from the banks Incoming MasterCard GL.

Preliminary investigations revealed that in the period, Sh179.6 million was paid out from the GL fraudulently to the 551 Equity Bank accounts.

Additionally, according to investigations, Sh63 million was sent to Safaricom Mpesa and Sh39 million to 11 commercial banks. The police and the bank are working with Safaricom and the respective banks to assist in tracing the movement and safeguarding the funds even as the suspects are being sought.

In the meantime the bank has liened Sh60.7 million in the 551 accounts.

Police said their investigations are ongoing and they hope to get all those involved in the crime.

This comes days after the National Assembly approved the regulations that will provide a framework to monitor, detect and respond to cybersecurity threats within Kenya’s cyberspace and ensure the protection of the critical information structure.

The Computer Misuse and Cybercrime (Critical Information Infrastructure and Cybercrime Management) Regulations, 2024 was approved after it was subjected to months of public participation.

Known as Legal Notice No. 44 of 2024, the regulations were drafted by the National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee (NC4) to operationalize the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, 2018.

The key aspects the CMCA Regulations address include protection measures for critical information infrastructure supporting critical economic sectors including telecoms, banking, transport and energy sectors, cybersecurity operations management using cybersecurity operations centres and cybercrimes management.

The regulations propose establishing a National Cybersecurity Operations Center to enhance coordination and intelligence sharing among stakeholders.

The regulations also stipulate how to deal with issues of scams, identity theft, hacking and internet fraud and also address the cybercrime capacity and capability building for public, businesses, government institutions, and private entities to enhance their cybersecurity preparedness and prioritize cybersecurity.

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