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Kenya breaks Chinese Cyber Crime Syndicate

16 Jan

A fire broke out in the upmarket neighbourhood in Nairobi of Rhunda Estate in which one person died, preliminary investigations show that the fire was triggered by a faulty server which was part of a complex network of high end communication equipment that looks to having being used for various forms of cyber crimes. Further raids on these premises revealed equipment being operated that are capable of infiltrating bank accounts, Kenya’s M-Pesa mobile banking systems and cash machines. Numerous telephone headsets, computers linked to high-speed internet and monitors were found. So far, police have arrested and charged 77 Chinese nationals in connection with these illegal activities. During the raids, police found soundproof rooms fashioned like military dorms that were full of computer equipment and outfitted with high-speed Internet connections, which is uncommon in Kenya. In Kenya, the perpetrators of computer fraud and criminal hacks are rarely found or arrested, say experts. In this recent case, fire blamed on a malfunctioning computer server revealed the suspects. With the fire spreading quickly, killing one person, the Chinese nationals refused help from their Kenyan neighbours, creating suspicion that prompted them to call the police

The discovery of what police call a cybercrime command centre comes as Kenya is experiencing a wave of computer crime, with criminal hackers carrying out phishing campaigns to extort money from citizens and launching attacks on banks. The arrests are a fortunate break for a police force struggling to contain the problem. Kenya loses close to 22.8 million US dollars annually to cyber crime which is a huge problem that often goes unnoticed.

However suspicions are rife that the group are actually on a espionage mission which could dent diplomatic relations between Kenya and China. The suspects are also facing charges of being in the country illegally as some do not have passports or any sort of identification. Kenya’s foreign ministry also summoned China’s top diplomat in Nairobi as it sought to establish if Beijing was in anyway linked to the affair. Equally hair raising is the quick response from China in pin pointing the groups activities to criminal activities targeting Chinese institutions and an immediate request for extradition. Suspicion is that the gang was on an espionage mission on behalf of the Chinese government as their equipment is capable of infiltrating Kenyan communications systems and this would be a breach of national security. The Kenyan government is looking into this matter and roped in experts to investigate further into the matter.



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