Fraudsters hack Uganda customs system
- Published on 22 June 2012
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) enforcement officers, in collaboration with the country’s police, have arrested four people suspected of hacking into the authority customs systems.
This is the biggest scam that the URA has experienced in the past few years, following the a number plate duplication scam that caused enormous losses to the tax body and saw some of its staff sacked and prosecuted.
According to the URA it is not ruling out an inside job, believing some staff within the organisation have been providing hackers with access platforms to carry out the transactions.
The suspects, Guster Nsubuga, Richard Kibalama, Farouk Mugerere and Patrick Owora have allegedly been carrying out their trade in a small Toyota car, outside the URA headquarters in Nakawa, Kampala.
Herbert Ssempogo, public and corporate affairs officer at URA said news enforcement officers have been tracking the suspects for some time until they arrested them outside the headquarters while transacting business on the URA e-tax system.
“We arrested them and kept them in cells as we verified the materials we found them with items that included automated teller cards, Laptops, Flash disks, modems, a power inverter and many other sophisticated devices which we are still scrutinising,” he explained.
“At the time our officer intercepted them they fidgeted to close down the laptops and unplug devices but we forced them to reopen them and discovered the home pages of the URA e-tax systems and ASCUDA were open and fully functioning,” said Ssempogo.
URA says that their software system, called ASCUDA, has been experiencing some occasional breakdowns for some time, which could have been as a result of the activities of the hackers.
It is suspected that the four have been using internet modems to illegally bypass URA e-tax and ASCUDA security systems to hack into the system register transactions whose payment evidence was not reflected in the banks where customers are expected to pay their taxes and present the evidence of payments to URA.