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Trojan infection linked to SA Net bank thefts

Police on trail of single perp

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A Trojan infection has been linked to the theft of hundreds of thousands of rand from Internet accounts held at South African bank Absa.

South Africa's Sunday Times yesterday reported that police are investigating nine cases involving thefts from Absa accounts. Losses reported to the police come in at R230,000 (£18,800) but the Sunday Times says it has evidence that a further R300,000(£24,600), not included in police figures, went missing from the account of one customer who contacted the paper.

Police and bank officials told the paper that criminals used "spy ware" to gain access of victims PCs to swipe Internet banking information and transfer money out of their accounts.

One likely scenario is that crackers targeted customers of Absa, South Africa's largest bank, sending out Trojan horse malware in order to pull off their crimes. This theory might why only Absa customers have reported raids on their accounts thus far.

One victim, Helene van Tonder, a bookkeeper from Bellville, said her R15,000 (£1,230) salary vanished from her account the day after it was paid in. Absa compensated van Tonder for this loss but she still decided to close her account as a precaution.

Police spokesman Riaan Pool said police are working on the theory that a single perpetrator is involved in the crimes. Presumably an audit trail from the transactions will help police narrow down their search for this as yet unknown crim.

Absa's group information security officer, Richard Peasy, told the Sunday Times that the bank's "security systems and processes had alerted the bank to suspicious activity before these clients knew about it.

"The transactions were frozen and the process for dealing with potentially fraudulent transactions was instituted," he said.

However, attorney Harry de Villiers said more than R300,000 from a trust account he administered went missing last week. Closer inspection of account statements revealed this money was used to pay for 15 laptop computers along with a cash transfer to another bank, he added. ®

External Links

'Hacker cleans out bank accounts', South Africa's Sunday Times

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