A Kenyan woman has been arrested in Harare for being the mastermind of a gang that hacked into the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) systems and siphoned $20 million (Sh2.4 billion) from its bank account.
The hackers who struck late last year instructed banks to move substantial quantities of money to their own accounts using Zimdef authorization codes.
Only $30 000 of the $120 million has been recovered so far after one of the transactions was cancelled when the operations of the gang were discovered.
Police in Harare say that Primrose Nyeri Mwangi, a Kenyan woman who runs a tour firm in the country was the leader of the gang.
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“Between December 1 and December 29 of last year, Mwangi collaborated with Gerald Pondai, Prosper Hove, and some other members of their syndicate to gain access to the computer data systems of Zimdef and, as a result, to the ZB Bank and CBZ accounts of Zimdef,” said state spokesman Zvikomborero Mupasa.
It is claimed that Mwangi and the syndicate then moved $20 million into a bank account belonging to one of her companies.
Apart from Mwangi’s accounts the gang also moved funds into accounts belonging to three other companies, Tavaka Holding, Newplaces (Pvt) Limited and Atrier Engineering.
The rest of the money was used to buy bulk cooking oil.
Zimdef was made aware of the offense on December 28 through an email from a whistle-blower outlining how the accounts had been compromised through its internal systems.
Mwangi was presented in a Harare court on Monday and charged with fraud.