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SA police arrest man in Absa Net bank fraud case

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South African police have arrested a man on suspicion of the fraud involving the illegal transfers of hundreds of thousands of rand from Internet accounts held at Absa, the country's largest bank.

The case involves the unauthorised removal of R500,000 (£41,300) from bank accounts run by an estimated ten separate Absa customers in South Africa's Western Cape province.

A man in his 30s, from the Cape Town area, was arrested by police in connection with these offences yesterday, ITWeb reports. Charges are yet to be made. A further statement on the case is expected from police tomorrow (Saturday, 26 July). Officers from the Western Cape commercial crimes unit are leading the investigation.

Meanwhile, despite been criticised for its handling of the problem earlier this week, Absa said it had signed up an extra 1,273 new clients in the past four days. Absa has 405,000 Internet banking clients.

"This proves that our clients are loyal to Absa and know that Internet banking is safe," said Alfie Naidoo, Managing Executive Absa e-channels.

"We would like to thank our clients for standing by us during the investigations. The growth in new registrations shows that the public trust the Absa brand."

Of course, the incident doesn't prove the bank's Internet accounts are safe - in fact it's evidence of the opposite. Nonetheless you got to hand it to Alfie for the brass balls in trying to spin such a line, and (in fairness) the bank deserves credit for stopping most of the fraudulent transactions and reimbursing its clients for monies lost.

Absa says its own systems are secure and blames the problem on security mistakes by its clients. Police are working on the theory criminals used "spy ware" to gain access of victims' PCs to swipe Internet banking information and transfer money out of their accounts.

In response to this, the bank has reissued guidance on steps Internet banking clients can take to help prevent their digital credentials getting swiped (click on link from Absa's front page).

According to Absa, only three client accounts were affected by the raids but since the security problem first came to light earlier this week additional people have come forward to the South African media to report they too have been affected. The closely watched investigation is rapidly becoming a touchstone case for the future of e-banking in South Africa. ®

External Link

Absa's latest statement on the case (including reference to the arrest)

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