Kenya has a growing online market. Just through our digital payment options, almost every business is somehow online. Therefore, the danger of cybercrime is growing. And this is becoming more and more professional and affects business people in local and foreign trade.
A classic example is a businessman from Nakuru County who is a friend of mine. He asked me to help him in a matter that brought down his business.
Mr Maheshkumar Ramanbhai Patel is a businessman dealing in motorcycle spare parts. The goods are imported from China and sold at a profit within Nakuru and its surroundings. Mahesh, as I call him, has a business partner with whom we work closely.
Mahesh placed an online order with his supplier in Guangzhou China for a freight container with sorted spare parts for motorcycles. This was followed by the obligatory telephone conversation as to whether the partner wanted to place an additional order for materials and spare parts. Actually, as always.
An hour later, Mahesh and his partner received an e-mail claiming that the same company had asked them to transfer $300,000 so that the goods could be loaded into a container and shipped. The shipping company’s costs and taxes were to be settled with this. Everything went as usual. Since Mahesh’s business partners wanted to get the goods quickly to replenish their spare parts shop, the money was transferred very quickly. However, the partner forgot to check email address and account number.
Two hours after the transfer, the Chinese supplier called and asked about the financial transaction. The Chinese partner also wanted to load and ship the goods. At this point it was clear to them that something could not be right. When they checked the data in the e-mail, however, it was already too late. The money was transferred to a Chinese account and was therefore out of their reach. But how could this happen?
The e-mail showed me that the sending was done via an IP address in Nairobi CBD Kenya. We in Kenya usually have a wide WLAN coverage, which can be used without registration. Anyone could have been the attacker. But maybe a system was hacked that was simply used for it. It was impossible to find out. But one thing was clear. The attackers had to know the content of the real-time order, as well as the normal e-mail traffic.
This process brought their business to a standstill, the company was liquidated and the shareholders separated.