South African man arrested after using `spy ware' in theft


Mon, Jul 28, 2003 - Page 12

A South African man has been charged with fraud and theft after he allegedly obtained the names and passwords of Internet banking customers and stole thousands of dollars, police said Saturday.

He was charged in connection with 10 suspect transactions, in which more than US$6,000 (5,200 euros) were siphoned from Absa bank accounts in the Cape Town area, detective chief Andre du Toit told reporters.

The suspected hacker is believed to have used "spyware" -- which enters a computer through its email program and records keyboard strokes -- to obtain the users' banking passwords, the SAPA news agency reported.

"We followed up various leads and achieved a breakthrough in the investigation when we arrested a 35-year-old divorced male on Thursday," du Toit said.

The man was charged on Saturday and expected to appear in the local Bellville Magistrate's court near Cape Town today for his initial hearing.

"We are also investigating the suspect's connection with other individuals and will be finalizing this investigation in the next seven days," Du Toit said.

The crime made headlines throughout South Africa, sparking panic among Internet users and prompting several regional banks to issue reassurances about the security of their online banking facilities.