Alleged international fraud ring stealing from Kenyan government
Alleged international fraud ring stealing from Kenyan government

A Kenyan national has been charged with hacking into the Kenyan tax authority and stealing $39m (£31m). Other government agencies, such as the e-citizen online payment portal, are also affected by the alleged hacking.

Alex Mutungi Mutuku was arrested following a tip-off that government departments were losing money. He was later charged with committing electronic fraud, but has denied the allegations.

His operation allegedly involves hackers with access to specialised equipment and software which enabled them to steal the money, Kenya's Standard newspaper reports.

Following the arrest, a Kenyan government spokesperson told the BBC thorough background checks on state employees are now being conducted.

Mutuku is being held while anti-cyber-crime officers dig deeper into what they believe is an elaborate fraud scheme with international connections including the United States and other countries, which is stealing money from several state bodies.

Mutuku's lawyer, Tacey Makori, has called for his release, claiming the police had failed to show enough evidence to warrant an extended detention.

A new report by security company Trend Micro says that the volume of cyber-crime related complaints received in West Africa has doubled, increasing from 940 incidents in 2013 to 2182 incidents in 2015.

According to Trend Micro, the West African criminal culture is a forgiving one when it comes to fraud. According to the firm, some surveyed claims that the culture encourages cyber-crime, equating it to outsmarting victims, especially foreigners.

This cultural mindset is reportedly most evident in Ghana where sakawa, a ritualised practice of online fraud, is practiced. In sakawa, a supreme being is believed to bless criminals with protection and good fortune. This encourages West African cyber-criminals to defraud foreign victims (typically Westerners) online as a means to escape poverty. It even serves as a means to justify ends, taking out the unethical element in victimising the unwitting.