Category Archives: Nigeria

Interpol arrests alleged ringleader of $60 million online scam network

Suspected head of an international criminal network, which took $60 million from victims, has been caught — following cooperation between authorities and cybersecurity firms.

interpol-online-fraud-investigation screen image www.intelagencies.com

Interpol worked with Nigerian authorities, Trend Micro and Fortinet on the investigation. (Image: Interpol)

The alleged head of an international network responsible for compromising the email accounts of businesses across the world and then using them to scam victims out of a combined $60 million has been arrested by Interpol.

Known as ‘Mike’, the 40 year-old Nigerian national behind the scams is suspected of deceiving thousands of victims, with one incident of this business email compromise scam resulting in one target being conned out of $15.4 million.

Interpol hopes physical border security will solve virtual borders

Although physical and virtual borders are vastly different, Interpol is already seeing results suggesting that it can apply the concept to online criminal activity.

‘The suspect headed a network of cybercriminals and hackers across Nigeria, Malaysia, and South Africa who used malware to compromise the accounts of small and medium-sized businesses then use the hijacked accounts — including those of executives — to carry out cyber fraud,” Interpol said.

Organisations in Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, Romania, South Africa, Thailand, and the US all had their email accounts compromised by the cybercriminal gang, which then used trust in emails from the hacked business to trick unsuspecting victims into transferring them money for items and services they would never receive.

The man accused of leading the operation was arrested in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, following collaboration between Interpol, the Nigerian Economic, and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), using intelligence provided by cybersecurity firms Trend Micro and Fortinet.

Working with the Interpol Digital Crime Centre, Trend Micro — which has been sharing threat information with the global police since 2014 — and Fortinet were able to help locate the suspect in Nigeria, which then led to his arrest in June.

Following the arrest, a forensic examination of seized devices showed that he’d been involved in a range of cybercriminal activities, with two main schemes that used the compromised business email accounts, the agency said.

Firstly, the operation engaged in payment diversion fraud where a supplier’s email was compromised and used to send fake messages to the buyer, asking for payments to a bank account under criminal control.

The gang also engaged in CEO fraud, hacking email accounts of executives, and then using their privileges to request money be transferred, with the funds ending up in a bank account operated by the fraudsters.

In total, victims were scammed out of over $60 million, which was laundered through accounts in China, Europe, and the US in order to avoid detection. According to Interpol, business email fraud represents a significant growing threat with tens of thousands of companies having fallen victim in recent years.

“The public, and especially businesses, need to be alert to this type of cyber-enabled fraud,” said Noboru Nakatani, executive director of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation.

“Basic security protocols such as two-factor authentication and verification by other means before making a money transfer are essential to reduce the risk of falling victim to these scams,” he added.

‘Mike’ and another suspect arrested in Nigeria face charges of hacking, conspiracy, and obtaining money under false pretences. Both are currently on bail as the investigation continues.

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Henry Sapiecha

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Police arrest dozens of suspects in cybercrime investigation

NIGERIAN SCAMMERS IN LINEUP FILE IMAGE www.intelagencies.com

NIGERIAN SCAMMERS FILE PIC

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Police have arrested dozens of suspects in an international investigation into a cybercrime gang that siphoned millions of euros from victims’ accounts in an identity fraud scam.

European Union justice agency Eurojust announced Wednesday that 49 suspects, most of them from Nigeria and Cameroon, were arrested a day earlier in an investigation by Italian, Spanish and Polish police supported by officers in Belgium, Britain and Georgia.

EU police agency Europol helped coordinate 58 searches during Tuesday’s operation. Eurojust says in a statement that investigations showed that cybercriminals had defrauded victims of 6 million euros ($6.8 million) and transferred it out of Europe.

The fraud involved stealing victims’ data such as usernames and passwords, in a process known as phishing, and diverting money from them and their customers.

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Henry Sapiecha