How hackers stole billions from banks

Stealing from bank systems

More cases of hackers gaining access to banking systems rise

Reports have emerged on how hackers breached banks money transfer and managed to wire billions from the institutions.

In the first week of January, a hacker breached the inter-bank money transfer system to steal Sh6.9 million from a bank.

The hacker targeted Pesa Link which triggered an investigation by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on how billions of shillings were lost in the cyber attack.


Barely two months after it was launched in 2017, two million customers signed up to Pesa Link which helps facilitate real time inter-bank transactions.

The application is designed to help a customer transfer money from their own account to others held in other banks and it also allows customers to wire money to their mobile phones.

Documents in court showed details of how 130 wanted suspects hacked bank systems, moved cash into holding accounts and then withdrew it from multiple accounts.


According to the police documents, withdrawals were made from automated teller machines (ATMs) which were miles away from the affected banks, highlighting the wide reach of the racket.

They have stolen billions of shillings from innocent Kenyans. Financial institutions are suffering because of these suspects’ actions,” DCI George Kinoti noted.

The amounts stolen from banks through cybercrime have risen over the years, from Sh14 billion in 2015, Sh17 billion in 2016 and Sh21 billion in 2017.

One of the methods used by hackers involves gaining unauthorised access to the core banking system to make suspicious deposits - emptied from targeted accounts - and subsequent withdrawals from multiple accounts.


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