$42 million lost to cyber-crime

More than $40 million has been lost to cyber-crime in the first four months of the year, an official report has shown.

According to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) statistics, 4 001 counts of cyber-related crime were committed resulting in 1 132 convictions being made during the period.

Though somewhat grim, the numbers, however, are an improvement when compared to the same period last year when $63 726 210 was lost to cyber-crime.

Only 966 convictions were made over the same period in 2018.

According to the Zimbabwe Information and Communication Technologies (ZICT), top cyber-crimes in Zimbabwe include phishing/vishing/smishing — personal information obtained usually through social engineering.

Others included misusing personal information (identity theft); denial of service attacks; agent malpractices — split transactions, remote withdrawals, hacking, shutting down or misusing websites or computer networks, spreading hate and inciting terrorism.

ZICT chairman Jacob Mutisi told NewsDay that the true extent of cybercrimes in Zimbabwe was underreported due to the weak legal framework which fails to properly define the crimes.

“The only area they (ZRP) can actually say they have been successful is on fraud. But, if you talk of someone doing card cloning … they can’t put it on any other section besides fraud of which card cloning should be a crime on its own,” he said.

“Modern crimes are not the crimes in the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, referred to as CODE; CODE does not cover any. It was last done in 2007 and since early 2005 technology has greatly improved…so it is impossible that it would have covered a lot of the crimes that are happening now. So, what needs to be done is to revisit the laws each and every year and update the CODE.”

The report also showed that during the period, authorities recovered $1 468 077 from cyber-related crimes compared to $1 680 119 last year.

Other cyber-related crimes included distribution of child pornography, grooming, making sexual advances to minors, mobile money fraud, card cloning, illegal SIM swaps — use of fake identity documents or collusion; and false transactions.

Government in 2017 drafted the Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Bill, which seeks to clearly define and consolidate cyber-related offences.

The Bill is currently before Parliament.

It will also seek to establish a Cyber Security Centre and “to provide for its functions; provide for investigation and collection of evidence of cyber-crime; to provide for the admissibility of electronic evidence for such offences; to create a technology-driven business environment; to encourage technological development and the lawful use of technology; to amend section 162 and to repeal sections 163 to 166 of the Criminal Code (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23]; and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing”.

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