A YOUTHFUL duo that abandoned fishing and trade in timber, as the top economic activities of their home district, Nchelenge to make quick bucks through a WhatsApp hacking criminal enterprise have landed themselves in hot legal soup.

At the tender ages of 21 and 24 respectively, Joshua Kabole and Richard Chipili joined their crookend minds with that of a Kenyan to hijack WhatsApp accounts of unsuspecting victims whom they would then blackmail or extort money from the contacts they find on the communication app.

According to authorities working on the case, the Pan-African criminal trio raked in close to K200,000 in the last two months.

However, their luck ran out when they picked on Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Technical Services, Professor Luckson Kasonka as their latest victim last week Sunday.

It has been reported that, one of the criminals placed a WhatsApp phone call to Professor Kasonka inviting him to join a virtual meeting on health issues.

The good Professor was advised to loudly call out a four-digit number he had received on his phone in order for them to add him to the meeting.

Being a dedicated medic and workaholic, Professor Kasonka quickly jumped out of his cozy blankets and eagerly shouted out the number to the caller even cutting short his Sunday relaxation even though he had no prior plan to attend a meeting that day.

But after the call, Professor Kasonka was locked out of his WhatsApp account and before long he started to receive calls from friends inquiring if he was okay following the messages they had received from him asking for money.

After several failed efforts to regain access to his WhatsApp account, Professor Kasonka reported the matter to the Zambia Information Technology Authority (ZICTA).

Acting on the report and number of that of person who called Professor Kasonka, the National Cyber Security Task Force went to work and traced the activities from a house nestled in the heart of the sprawling compound of Chiwempala in Chingola, Copperbelt.

Lusaka based officers made the journey to Chiwempala and in the raid, authorities found Chipili and Kabole who are originally from Nchelenge, Luapula Province but relocated to Chingola enjoying wines and sasuages bought from the proceeds of their crimes.

A search in their apartment revealed 15 pre-registered simcards from Airtel and MTN along with five mobile phones.

With slight encouragement from the Graphel Musamba’s men, the duo readily admitted to their crimes and further revealed that they were in fact working for a Kenyan national.

“These numbers were purchased to hide their identities and receive money from different victims. They received a 15% commission per transaction, sending the remaining funds to Kenya via Airtel. So far, they have assisted in collecting approximately K190,000 Kwacha since they started operating two months ago,” an officer who was part of the operation told Kalemba.

Covinced that they had the right people, authorities officially arrested the duo and booked them for Unauthorized access to data c/s 49 of the cyber security and cyber-crimes Act No. 2 of 2021, as well as ‚Ā†Identity related crimes c/s 53 of the cyber security and cyber-crimes Act No. 2 of 2021.

They were also charged with Obtaining money by false pretenses c/s 309 CAP 87 of the laws of Zambia.

Efforts are being made to also apprehend the Kenyan who does not operate from Zambia.



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