class=”f”>Zambia Daily Mail by Online Editor on 6/13/13
By YANDE SYAMPEYO
POLICE have cracked an elaborate scheme by a ring of criminals who have siphoned up to US$4 million or KR21.9 million (K21.9 billion) from accounts of unsuspecting savers at different automated teller machines (ATMs) countrywide.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Solomon Jere told the Daily Mail that some ‘foreign criminals’ are believed to be behind the ring in collusion with some Zambians they have trained in cyber crime.
He expressed concern that Zambians are working in league with some foreign elements “specialised” in ATM thefts to steal from fellow Zambians.
Dr Jere has also revealed that some seven dangerous armed criminals have escaped from custody in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and entered Zambia through the Sakania border.
Dr Jere said police have launched an “intensive” hunt for the escapees.
On the ATM thefts, Dr Jere said officers specialised in dealing with cyber crime will soon embark on awareness campaigns to educate members of the public on the vice.
He advised members of the public to secure their ATM pin numbers and reject offers of help from any individual as they withdraw money.
“Members of the public are advised to secure their pin numbers and not share them with anyone who might offer to help them to withdraw money. It is not advisable to expose pin numbers when making transactions,” Dr Jere said.
He said members of the public should be “extremely cautious” as the criminals are likely to take advantage of upcoming events, including the International Trade Fair and Lusaka Agriculture and Commercial show, to carry out their dubious activities.
“Therefore, those who intend to attend these events are advised to take extra care of their personal documents and property to avoid being victims of theft.
The police assure the nation that we are on the look-out for these criminals and once they are caught, they will face the wrath of the law,” he said.
On the seven suspected dangerous criminals who have escaped from custody in the DRC, Dr Jere said they are believed to be heading for the Copperbelt and Lusaka provinces.
The criminals escaped in the early hours of Wednesday, according to Dr Jere.
He said the suspects have no travel documents and could be dangerous, especially if confronted by armed people.
“We are appealing to members of the public with firearms to secure them or deposit them at the nearest police station for safe custody. Anyone who comes across suspicious-looking people should report them to the police,” Dr Jere said.
Officers on the Copperbelt, Central and Lusaka provinces have been directed to intensify road blocks and snap check points as they hunt down the criminals, he said.
“Members of the public are requested to co-operate with the Zambia Police,” Dr Jere said.
He did not state whether police have detained anybody, local or foreign, regarding the US$4 million ATM thefts. Neither did he name which banks have been affected.