Computer fraudster jailed

2011-04-08 00:00

ONE of KwaZulu-Natal’s most notorious fraudsters, Sipho Msomi, has been sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment — of which five years was conditionally suspended, in the regional court in Pietermaritzburg after entering into a plea agreement with the state.

Msomi has been described in evidence at his bail hearing as one of the kingpins in a syndicate that allegedly used sophisticated computer technology to defraud state departments.

In terms of his plea agreement, Msomi pleaded guilty before Pietermaritzburg magistrate Jennifer Anthoo to two charges of fraud, admitting that he defrauded the Education Department of R2 625 794 during April 2007 and the Department of SA Social Security Agency of R1 852 986 during October 2007.

He also pleaded guilty to escaping from police custody in 2008.

In a statement to the court, Msomi said he was approached by a woman named “Swazi” at his home in Overport in Durban in December 2006 and she proposed they load a computer programme called “Winspy” onto the computers in different government departments.

“Winspy is a spyware that is easy to install and it captures key strokes, mouse clicks and screen shots. It is hard to detect in taskbar or running services and can replicate itself if deleted,” he said.

Msomi explained that “Winspy” could be sent on an e-mail attached to a picture or game or any programme and could be loaded with a CD or flash disk as it is very small.

He said he was requested to send “Winspy” attached to an e-mail, which he did. It was thus installed on computers within the Education Department.

Msomi said, acting in concert with others and as a result of the information obtained via “Winspy”, he perpetrated the fraudulent transactions.

He said he was paid R30 000 for the role he played in the fraud.

Similarly, he was involved in defrauding the SA Social Security Agency, for which he was paid R7 500.

Msomi said he was initially arrested for fraud on November 10, 2007. Just over a year later, on December 9, 2008, he escaped with the aid of a police official in charge of the holding cells at the magistrate’s court in Pietermaritzburg.

The court was told that Msomi is 40 years old, and at the time of his arrest he was self employed and running a travel agency called Road to Success Multiserve in Durban. He is also a qualified Muslim priest.

Msomi has a previous conviction for contravening the Electronic Communications Act for which he was given a five-year suspended sentence in 2006.

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