Foreign hacker hacks emails and does unauthorized transfers on m-BoB

Thimphu police are investigating a case of an unauthorized transaction through m-BoB facility that took place a month ago. The suspect transferred Nu 344,000 to one Bhutan National Bank Limited (BNBL) account from five different Bank of Bhutan (BoB) accounts.

The initial incident took place on 7 and 8 October while the case was reported to police on 9 October by Bank of Bhutan (BoB) management. It was learnt the incident came to BoB’s notice when five clients from different districts reported the unauthorized transactions. Upon receiving the same complaints in branch offices, the head office then reported the incident to Thimphu police.

Two clients are from Tsirang, two from Thimphu and one from Bumthang. All the victims are from the Livestock Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest.

Police said that upon enquiring with BoB management and the m-BoB section in particular, it was learnt that all the transactions were done after resetting the m-pin number, a number which is used to open the m-bob facility. They are suspecting that the suspect hacked their email id.

“The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number of the device which was used to transfer the amount is same for all the five transactions, meaning that all the transaction was done through one device. So, we are suspecting that a single person committed the crime,” police added.

Police said that upon crosschecking the IMEI number with Bhutan telecom and Tashi cell, there was no user registered under that IMEI number in the country. However, they managed to get hold of a 36 year-old-man, to whose account the whole amount got transferred. The account was registered under a name of a travel agenc that he owns.

In connection to this, he was then called and interrogated.

Police said, “During interrogation, the travel agent said that he came into contact with a man claiming to be from Texas, USA (prime suspect) through WhatsApp (mobile app) whereby he shared his desire to visit Bhutan. In the process, the prime suspect told him that a man from Jakar, Bumthang residing in USA at present is trying for a USA citizenship.”

He was told that, all the amount in the local account of the man from Jakar will be transferred to his account whereby he has to later covert it into crypto currency and transfer it to the prime suspect’s account. However, the travel agent refused.  The man once again asked the travel agent to transfer the amount to one of his friends in India who would than transfer the amount to the prime suspect’s account after converting it into crypto currency, police said.

Police said, “The travel agent was called by BNBL management on 9 October and after giving an authorization to BNBL, the amount was transferred back to the respective BoB clients.”

The statement of the travel agent does match with the chat history between him and the prime suspect, police said, adding that they are not concluding anything though.

Though the travel agent asked the prime suspect to share the WhatsApp ID of a man claiming to be from Jakar so that he can contact him directly, the prime suspect refused saying he does not use WhatsApp as he is busy due to his nature of job.

Meanwhile, police said that in due course of investigation it was learnt that the prime suspect did not chat from USA as he claimed, because the country code of his WhatsApp ID is a code of Nigeria.  

The case is under investigation and they are exploring every means to get to the prime suspect who is suspected to be outside Bhutan.

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