BREAKING: INTERPOL, EFCC Arrest Most Wanted Cybercriminal In Nigeria | Independent Newspapers Limited
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BREAKING: INTERPOL, EFCC Arrest Most Wanted Cybercriminal In Nigeria

Posted: Aug 1, 2016 at 6:49 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

The head of an international criminal network behind thousands of online scams has been arrested in a joint operation by INTERPOL and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Mike, a 40-year-old Nigerian, is believed to be the mastermind of scams, including business e-mail compromise and romance scams, totalling more than $60 million stolen from hundreds of victims worldwide, with one victim swindled out of $15.4 million.

The suspect was arrested in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Authorities said Monday the fraud involved email accounts of small to medium businesses around the world including in Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, Romania, South Africa, Thailand and the United States, with the financial victims mainly other companies dealing with these compromised accounts.

Mike is believed to have led a network of at least 40 individuals across Nigeria, Malaysia and South Africa which both provided malware and carried out the frauds; the alleged mastermind also had money laundering contacts in China, Europe and the U.S. who provided bank account details for the illicit cash flow.

A major form of the scam was payment diversion fraud, where a supplier’s email would be compromised and fake messages would then be sent to the buyer with instructions for payment to a bank account under the criminal’s control, and CEO fraud.

In CEO fraud, the email account of a high-level executive is compromised and a request for a wire transfer is sent to another employee who has been identified as responsible for handling these requests. The money is then paid into a designated bank account held by the criminal.

Mike first came onto the law enforcement radar through a report provided to INTERPOL by Trend Micro, one of its strategic partners at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore. This, combined with actionable analysis and intelligence from Fortinet Fortiguard Labs in 2015, enabled specialists at the INTERPOL Digital Crime Centre, including experts from Cyber Defense Institute based at the IGCI, and the EFCC to locate the suspect in Nigeria, resulting in his arrest in June.

Abdul Chukkol, EFCC Cybercrime Section head, said the transnational nature of business e-mail compromise makes it complex to crack, but the arrest was a clear signal that Nigeria could not be considered a safe haven for criminals.

“For a long time we have said, in order to be effective, the fight against cybercrime must rely on public-private partnerships and international cooperation,” said Chukkol.

(Premium Times)