Long arm of the law nabs Eastern Cape ‘computer fraudsters’ after R3m stolen a decade ago

Two men are alleged to have swindled millions from the Eastern Cape health department by attaching ‘key loggers’ to computers and retrieving usernames and passwords. Image: 123RF/Atit Phetmuangtong

The law has finally caught up with two service providers who allegedly stole more than R3m a decade ago from the health department in the Eastern Cape.

They allegedly used computer monitoring software to record keystrokes on computers, capturing log-in details to transfer money into bank accounts operated by a syndicate.

Hawks spokesperson Capt Lloyd Ramovha said the two had been contracted as service providers. “They formed part of a syndicate that allegedly attached key loggers to the computers of the department’s finance section and retrieved usernames and passwords,” said Ramovha.

“About R3.1m was then transferred into the syndicate’s various bank accounts from 14 fraudulent transactions that were initially paid to four local schools that were listed as beneficiaries. A Hawks’ investigation revealed that these payments were never authorised by the department which necessitated a closer look at service providers who had access to the department’s IT infrastructure.”

The two accused, who have subsequently appeared in court, are Moses Justice Luthuli and Owen Bruce James.

“James was the first to be arrested, on February 9 2020, when the investigating team tracked him to his hideout in the Turffontien, Johannesburg, area, followed by Luthuli who was apprehended in KwaZulu-Natal, Richards Bay, on Friday, May 22 2020,” said Ramovha.

“James has already made several court appearances in the Zwelitsha magistrate’s court. He remains in custody and is expected back in court on June 3 2020 for the continuation of his bail application. Luthuli was granted R2,000 bail and is expected back in court on July 23 2020.”


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