Gautrain heist foiled

13 November 2014 - 02:20 By Graeme Hosken
THUMBS UP: Passengers rate the Gautrain's punctuality, value for money and security above 90%.
THUMBS UP: Passengers rate the Gautrain's punctuality, value for money and security above 90%.
Image: KATHERINE MUICK-MERE .

An IT specialist who hacked the Gautrain Management Agency's systems containing banking codes, passwords and financial details of staff was arrested, foiling an alleged heist of up to R800-million.

The Pretoria man, whose contract was terminated two weeks ago, was arrested when Hawks officers raided his GaRankuwa home yesterday.

The man is believed to have used specialised computer software and devices to hack the financial management system. He was discovered in a routine system check.

A source told The Times that had he successfully carried out his plan the man would have had access to more than R800-million.

Neither the police nor the Gautrain management agency would quantify the amount of money he had access to or was allegedly about to steal.

The suspect is to appear in the Johannesburg specialised commercial crimes court today on charges of fraud, corruption and contravening the Electronic Communications Act.

Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko said they believed the man was just days away from withdrawing a "big" amount.

"For now we cannot say how much, but it was large."

He said the 30-year-old suspect had been fired two weeks ago but police did not yet know why.

"Our investigations show he was using software and IT devices to hack their financial systems.

"He was allegedly duplicating banking accounts and other financial details that would have given him access to these systems and money."

Ramaloko said investigations showed he had an amount of money in his bank account that "he cannot explain".

He declined to say how much money was in the account or where exactly it came from, but a source with knowledge of the investigation said there was almost R250000 in the account.

Ramaloko confirmed that the money would be considered in the investigation.

"... He had access to the monies in the Gautrain Management Agency account, but had not yet withdrawn it. It appears he was going to do so in one big withdrawal. We caught him before he could.

"His arrest was made with the help of the banks and Gautrain," Ramaloko said.

Barbara Jensen, the spokesman for the Gautrain Management Agency, declined to reveal the amount of money the suspect had been targeting.

She said: "The alleged actions of the former employee, who worked with us for 18 months, were discovered after a routine IT system check.

"Attempts were made on our system two weeks ago. We discovered that he was trying to access our financial management systems."

She said the system being targeted was not linked to accounts containing fares paid by commuters but rather information pertaining to staff financial details, including the accounts into which staff salaries were paid.

"This was an early detection. Nothing was compromised and none of our other systems has been affected."

The man was an "ordinary employee who was dismissed the same day the discoveries were made".

She said more arrests were possible.

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