Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) has arrested two men accused of hacking into people’s social media accounts to steal money.
Muhammad Usanase and Abdoulkarim Munana all from Eastern Province in Ngoma District, are being accused of cybercrimes.
Usanase, 21, is accused of hacking into various media accounts from different individuals, especially artistes. Munana was reportedly acting as his accomplice.
He admitted hacking passwords to make them inaccessible to the owners and then later asks for money so that they have their accounts back.
Local musicians Amag De Black, Urban Boys and Arthur the Comedian are some of his victims, he said.
“I hacked the Instagram account of Amag, and I saw he posted things that he has a misunderstanding with one of Guma Guma contestants. I took a picture of Urban Boys and posted it using his account and said that they were in conflict. I called and asked him to give me Rwf 200,000. He first refused but he later called me back and proposed to pay it in instalments. He sent Rwf150,000 immediately on the mobile number I gave him,” he narrated.
Usanase who dropped out of school when he was in fourth year of high school studying IT, said he didn’t have an opportunity to learn much about IT and that what he does was a matter of trying and practicing, he said.
“I send messages into the inboxes of artistes telling them I’m an agent working in UK, and we are organising a concert in which we wish them to participate. I ask them to send me copies of their IDS, including passports for visa purposes. When I get this information, it is easy to access their social media accounts,” he said.
Usanase uses a UK mobile number, which he also got from someone he hacked. When he writes to people, messages appear as if they are coming from United Kingdom, he said.
When he was arrested, Usanase had hacked someone from Rwanda Rugby Federation and talked with a donor called Freddy Davis from Wales.
The hacker entered into the social media accounts of a certain Kamanda from The Federation then started to talk to Davis concerning the upcoming rugby tournament in Rwanda.
“When we arrived on money issues, he asked me the prices of accommodation in Rwanda. He agreed to send an advance of $1000 to book rooms for staff and I used ID documents of another person to withdraw the money,” he said.
Later the donor called his partner to ask him to follow up with the money and it’s that time he became aware that he had been hacked.
“When you open an account, there is a username which facebook or any other social media creates which helps in hacking. It’s better to hide it and hide all the personal information on social media in order to avoid being hacked. The hiding option can be available in settings and privacy,” he disclosed.
Munana, a retailer from Ngoma is accused of being Usanase’s accomplice because the ID used to withdraw the money was his.
“He told me that he had given my names to an English charitable person who wanted to send $1000, to help his friend who was sick. I didn’t think the money was stolen,” Munana explained.
Munana who raised Usanase until he decided to go to Kigali to search for a living, said he was thinking of how to help him at least finish high school.
He advised parents to talk to their children instead of leaving them to themselves with their electronic gadgets.
“Most of the times we leave them alone with their technologies and they use it negatively. They use it to chat among themselves which sometimes brings teenage about pregnancies, or in committing a crime, just like Muhammad did. For example, what he has just told the press is new to my ears,” he said.
Modeste Mbabazi the Acting spokesperson for RIB said they receive at least one or two cases relating to cybercrimes every month. They include people calling individuals that they have been awarded by companies or institutions and they request advance money whether for transport or other clearances he said.
Many people fall in their traps but there is a way to prevent it.
“Everyone who gets a notification that someone tried to enter into his/her account should notify RIB immediately to follow up the case. We have capacity and equipment which can help us to know who does such thing, his location and how he does it. We have a specific anti cybercrimes unit,” he said.
However, some people don’t use their accounts actively which gives the space to hackers, he said.
“They open accounts and don’t use them. Most of these passive users get aware that they have been hacked after days when people they work together of family members call them asking for feedback of the money they sent,” he said.
Cybercrimes are punished with five to seven years of imprisonment with fines from Rwf1,000,000 to Rwf5,000,000.
Mbabazi urges Rwandans to take care of their social media accounts and phone calls and notify RIB in case of any notification or unusual chats.