Egyptian Public Prosecution (photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt’s Prosecutor-General Hamada El-Sawy ordered the detention of five defendants for four days pending investigation for stealing funds from 14 clients of the state-owned Banque Misr, a statement read on Saturday.
The detention was renewed for 15 days for further investigations, the statement added.
The case dates back to mid-August when a number of Banque Misr clients reported that large sums of their deposited money had been illegally withdrawn. The victims’ accounts were accessed after receiving phone calls from fraudsters claiming to be bank employees asking them about certain codes and passwords.
Shortly after the reports emerged, Banque Misr confirmed the incident and halted electronic transactions from bank accounts to prepaid Meeza cards, stressing it is adopting all precautionary measures to protect its clients from fraud and claiming full responsibility for any stolen funds.
Police investigations led to the identification of five defendants who committed the crime, one of whom is an employee in the company contracted by the bank to provide communication services to its customers. Two of the defendants had previously worked in the company, the prosecution said.
When arrested, the five defendants were found in possession of EGP 2,153,505 million out of the stolen funds totalling EGP 2.71 million, the statement added.
The prosecution concluded its statement by warning people to protect their digital information to avoid similar incidents.
Since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, Egypt has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of electronic transactions and payment operations.
The National Telecoms Regulatory Authority (NTRA) said in a report late last year that Egypt saw a 156 per cent increase in the number of electronic transactions in October 2020 compared to March of the same year, while the number of electronic payment operations increased by 155 per cent.