On 28 January 2021, TM Pick n Pay lost $22 million to e-mail hacking fraudsters.
According to a report by The Herald, TM Pick n Pay lost money after a fabricated email instructed Steward Bank to process and transfer the money into four companies. The fabricated email was in the name of TM Pick n Pay financial manager Raymond Matsetsa instructing accounts staff to send money from a bank account held at Steward Bank, Avondale branch, to four company accounts which were systematically emptied.
Steward Bank acted on the instructions and transferred $10 million into a company called Simrac Investments, Leechiz ($3 million), Madzara Investment ($7 million), and Maalocka Pvt Ltd ($2 million).
TM Pick n Pay discovered the transaction, which they disputed on March 3, 2021, with the manager in question saying the email was doctored. TM Pick n Pay employees and Steward Bank insiders were suspected of being involved in the scam.
The State alleged that Chagweda and Jombe, working with Ronald Mudzingwa and Moses Banda, created a fake email address raymondmatsetswa@Tm/supermarkets.com to pass themselves off as TM Pick n Pay finance manager Mr Raymond Matsetswa and as Mr Gamuchirai Nyamuzinga, the chief finance officer.
It is alleged that Chagweda and Jombe sent an email to Steward Bank with the needed instruction forms signed with the forged signatures of Mr Matsetswa and Mr Nyamuzinga that ordered Steward to process four payments and debit TM Pick n Pay a total of $22 million.
The bank, listed as the complainant, did not notice the difference between the fake and real email addresses, so authorised and processed the transaction. On March 3, 2021 TM Pick n Pay head office disputed some of the transactions on their account and the whole fraud started to unravel.
One suspect Tonderai Chagweda, was arrested and assisted the Zimbabwe Republic Police with investigations. Chagweda’s lawyer Ms Charity Tawanda of Tawanda Law Practice confirmed her client's arrest. She said there seemed to be no connection between her client and the alleged facts.
“My client neither works for TM or Steward Bank nor was any of the alleged sums transferred to him."
Tonderai Selesio Chagweda and Wellington Jombe, were brought to court on 11 March 2021. They were granted bail of $50 000 each on Friday 12 March 2021.
Police issued a warrant of arrest for Moses January Banda whom they said has been on their wanted list since 2008 for multiple fraud cases but has continually slipped away.
- Fidelis Munyoro, Hackers fleece supermarket of $22m, The Herald, Published: March 11, 2021, Retrieved: March 13, 2021
- Freeman Razemba, TM Pick n Pay $22m fraud mastermind a habitual criminal, The Herald, Published: March 13, 2021, Retrieved: March 13, 2021