By Exposed Uganda
The Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Stanbic bank and top telecom companies MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda are sweating plasma after hackers hacked into their accounts and stole money amounting USD3.5M, over Shs9Bn, which they diverted to different accounts.
The shocking multibillion heist was revealed in a joint statement issued by both MTN Chief Executive Officer Wim Vanhelleputte, and VG Somasekhar, the and Airtel C.E.O, on October 5th,2020, in which they acknowledged the multibillion theft.
According to the said statement, the hackers manipulated the mobile money systems and both companies and managed to pilfer the money from a special account that stores money sent to wrong numbers across both telecom networks.
The anomaly was realized after they yet to be identified cyber criminals hacked the systems of Pegasus Technologies, a company that integrates mobile money transactions between telecoms, banks, and other local, regional, and international money transfer services, from which they stole money amounting to Shs9Bn.
The Statement reads in part thus;
“MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda wish to inform the public and their customers that due to unprecedented technical challenges, mobile money services between the two networks are temporarily suspended.
Our technical teams are working together to resolve the challenges and restore the services as soon as possible.
We apologise to all customers for any inconvenience that this has caused and reiterate our commitment to delivering seamless mobile money services.”
We have established that besides MTN and Airtel, financial institutions especially commercial banks that deal with the above telecom companies were also affected.
Our sources reveal that Stanbic Bank, which backs up most of the mobile money transactions, was also greatly affected and has since suspended mobile money/Wallet to account transactions.
The Stanbic Bank CEO Anne Juuko, Wim Vanhelleputte, and VG Somasekhar, also issued a joint statement notifying the general public thus;
“Stanbic Bank Uganda, MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda inform the public and their customers that on Saturday 3 October 2020, a third-party service provider experienced a system incident which impacted Bank to Mobile Money transactions.
All Bank to Mobile Money/Wallet services have since been temporarily suspended.”
The Statement continues that; “This system incident has had no impact on any balances on both Bank and Mobile Money accounts.
Our technical teams are analyzing the incident and will restore services as soon as possible. We apologise to all customers for any inconvenience that this has caused and reiterate our commitment to delivering seamless banking and mobile money services.”
Commenting about the matter, Charles Twiine Mansio, the spokesperson of the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), Kibuli, confirmed that a case of electronic fraud had been reported to police and investigations into the same had commenced.
Twiine said that; “The fraud incident has been reported. We are constituting a team of electronic countermeasures investigators and investigations begin effective tomorrow.”
However, when this website contacted Ronald Azairwe, the Managing Director Pegasus Technologies Limited, he was noncommittal about the matter and refused comment about it.
Azairwe said that; “Sadly I can’t comment on that. I can’t confirm or deny anything of the sort. I can’t speak about it. MTN/Stanbic/Airtel should be able to tell you whether it is Pegasus or not.”
Besides handling mobile money transactions for Airtel and MTN, Pegasus also handles Stanbic Bank’s Flexipay, a cashless solution that allows the bank’s customers to pay for goods and services via mobile money.
We have since learnt that besides telecoms and Banks, other international money remittance firms were also affected.
Pegasus, which started operating in 2007, handles over Shs1.7 trillion in financial transactions annually for telecoms, commercial banks, microfinance institutions and international money remittances.
Its transactions include mobile money aggregation, mobile payments and remittances, loans and savings, and value-added services such as SMS, airtime, and data loading.
Pegasus’ flagship product, PegPay payments platform, is currently being used by several institutions including banks, telecoms, and utility companies such, retailers, Pay-Tv providers’, Umeme, NWSC and schools, to aggregate and manage financial transactions for both internal and external purposes.