Police have arrested a man suspected to have hacked the State House computer systems and allegedly used President Peter Mutharika’s name to swindle unsuspecting individuals and companies, The Nation has learnt.
Malawi Police Service (MPS) Deputy Inspector General (DIG) responsible for operations Rodney Jose confirmed the arrest in an interview in Lilongwe on Wednesday.
But he did not disclose the name of the suspect for fear of jeopardising investigations.
He said the suspect, who was arrested last week by National Police Headquarters Fiscal Department, is being kept at an undisclosed station and will be taken to court soon.
According to some sources, the suspect was allegedly impersonating the President and communicating with his victims through e-mails.
But it is not clear whether the suspect was using the official e-mail account of the President or was manipulating accounts of other State House officers.
Jose said police suspect that the suspected crime involved a syndicate, rather than an individual.
“It seems this man has a lot of computer knowledge and was hacking computers to steal from people using the name of the State House.
“This being a very sensitive matter, we cannot divulge more information now. But investigations are still on-going. We will give more details to you when investigations are through,” said the DIG.
Cases of impersonation are on the increase in the country, with criminals using various professional ‘masks’ to steal money and other valuables from unsuspecting individuals.
While hacking and cyber attacks are a growing global concern in the developed world, Malawi has never had reported concerns over hacking as a national security matter prior to this incident.
However, some crooks have increasingly been impersonating government officials, public figures and staff at Parliament Secretariat, journalists and medical doctors.
Last year, police arrested a man who used to get money from Cabinet ministers and other politicians by using the name of George Mhango, a journalist working for Nation Publications Limited (NPL).
This year alone, three people impersonating medical doctors have been arrested at referral hospitals and have been handed heavy sentences by the courts.
Early this year, Parliament Secretariat also placed advertisements warning parliamentarians to be on the lookout for impostors who were posing as parliamentary staff and getting money from Members of Parliament and other high profile officials in society.