By Billy Ntaote
MASERU — Law enforcement agencies on Monday attended a workshop exploring strategies and devices used by criminals engaged in electronic banking crimes in an effort to deter their prevalence of in Lesotho.
Electronic banking crimes which are rampart in South Africa are now increasingly spilling across that country’s borders into neighbouring countries, an expert told a workshop convened on Monday to sentitise Lesotho’s law enforcement agencies about the scourge.
The workshop, held at a local hotel, was attended by high-ranking police officers, judges and magistrates, prosecutors and principal secretaries as well as banking industry executives focused on policing commercial crime, digital forensics, identity theft, electronic banking crimes and banking-related violent crimes.
Head of Specialist Forensic Investigations at Barclays Africa/ABSA, Harry Van Cittert, revealed in a presentation that over the last three years there has been an upsurge in electronic banking crimes, adding that crimes of that nature are increasingly crossing South Africa’s borders into the southern African region.
He said as a result of this realisation, South African Banking Risk Identification Centre (SABRIC) planned workshops to sensitise relevant authorities across the region.
“We have been to Zambia, Kenya and Uganda, so currently we are conducting this workshop here in Lesotho. We are trying to make it a frequent exercise with the collaboration of banks,” he said.
Cittert said they have discovered that syndicates that perpetrate electronic banking crimes can scheme from South Africa and commit the crimes anywhere in the region.
“This is why today we are here in Lesotho to raise awareness within the law enforcement agencies, especially about the sort of
equipment and devices used and some of the perpetrators already known to us,” Cittert said.
Cittert said creating awareness was important as it assists law enforcement agencies to be well informed about how to deal with electronic banking crime syndicates.
“Knowledge is power, hence this type of workshop here in Lesotho today,” he said.
Cittert further stated that they now know that syndicates of this nature target bank accounts and move money from one account to another to fleece banks and their clients of hard-earned cash.
“In some cases, we have found that they use false pay instructions and this happens frequently,” Cittert said. “Having such false pay instructions could come across as a human error but banks already have systems to deter such through checks and balances.”
Cittert said when there is cooperation across borders, cross-border electronic banking crimes policing becomes easy for law enforcement agencies to deal with.
“We need the local police here in Lesotho to cooperate with all other agencies for crimes of this nature to be resolved speedily and easily. In the past, due to lack of cooperation, such crimes were not easy to deal with but today there is cooperation hence the workshop we had here today,” Cittert said.
Cittert said SABRIC was established to assist the banking industry to combat organised crime with the assistance of key stakeholders such as banks and major cash-in-transit companies.
He said the principal business of SABRIC is to detect, prevent and reduce organised crime in the banking industry through effective public-private partnerships.