Hawks and GMA thwart R800 million attempted Gautrain fraud

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South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, also known as the Hawks, arrested a former IT technician at Gauteng’s rapid transport Gautrain system today on charges of suspicion of attempted fraud, corruption and contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act and the Electronic Communication and Transactions Act (ECTA) among others.

In a joint statement issued to the media today, the Hawks and the Gautrain Management Agency said that the arrest comes after a long investigation which led them to the suspect and the subsequent arrest.

“This arrest is the result of the Hawks and the GMA working together for some time in investigating the suspect and apprehending him today,” the statement said. “A possible threat to the GMA computer systems was detected during a routine audit and the Hawks were duly notified. Investigations are continuing and more arrests are possible. The GMA systems, as a result of the early detection, were not compromised.”

As far as htxt.africa understands, the suspect attempted to siphon off around R800 million from the company’s bank accounts and staff payroll, but due to the investigation and arrest the GMA doesn’t appear to have suffered any financial loss. According to the statement the suspect will appear in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crime Court on tomorrow, Thursday the 13th November 2014.

This is not the first time that the Gautrain has been the subject of fraud. In 2012 a group of researchers managed to hack their way past the train’s Mifare Classic 4k ticketing turnstiles. Researchers Henryk Plötz and Karsten Nohl demonstrated in 2007 that they were able to partially bypass the algorithm used to recharge the entry cards – effectively giving them free access and rides.

[Image – CC by 2.0/Darren Smith]

Charlie Fripp

Charlie Fripp

Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.