INTERPOL arrests four Nigerians for cybercrime, fraud
INTERPOL, in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has arrested three Nigerians in connection to cyber fraud.
The operation targeting malware cyber fraud across Southeast Asia led to the arrest of the three suspected scammers.
In a sting operation conducted by the EFCC, the suspects were arrested in the Ajegunle area of Lagos State, and in Benin City, Edo State.
INTERPOL said the operation was part of a global operation codenamed “Killer Bee” involving the organisation’s General Secretariat headquarters and National Central Bureaus and law enforcement agencies in 11 countries across Southeast Asia.
The arrests follow the publication of an INTERPOL Cyber Report linking a suspected syndicate of Nigerian fraudsters operating from the West Coast of Africa to the use of a malicious Remote Access Trojan known as Agent Tesla.
NTERPOL said the men are thought to have used the RAT to reroute financial transactions, stealing confidential online connection details from corporate organisations, including oil and gas companies in South East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.
While two of the scammers are still on trial, the third, Hendrix Omorume, has been charged and convicted of three counts of serious financial fraud and faces a 12-month prison sentence.
Days earlier, the cybercrime unit of the Nigeria Police Force arrested a 37-year-old Nigerian man in an international operation spanning four continents, coordinated and facilitated by the recently created Africa operations desk within INTERPOL’s cybercrime directorate.
INTERPOL in a statement said the suspect is alleged to have run a transnational cybercrime syndicate that launched mass phishing campaigns and business email compromise schemes targeting companies and individual victims.
Nigerian law enforcement apprehended the suspect at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.
INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said law enforcement and cybersecurity firms have witnessed the striking increase in many forms of cybercrime in recent years, exploiting the context of COVID-19 and forming what he described a “parallel pandemic.”
INTERPOL’s Africa desk, called the African Joint Operation against Cybercrime (AFJOC) and funded by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, was launched in May 2021 to boost the capacity of 49 African countries to fight cybercrime.
The police operation, codenamed Delilah, was initiated by an intelligence referral from several INTERPOL partners from the private sector: Group-IB, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 and Trend Micro.
The intelligence was enriched by analysts within INTERPOL’s Cyber Fusion Centre, which brings together experts from law enforcement and industry to turn information on criminal activities into actionable intelligence. INTERPOL’s AFJOC desk then referred the intelligence to Nigeria and followed up with multiple case coordination meetings supported by law enforcement in Australia, Canada and the United States.
Investigators began to map out and track the alleged malicious online activities of the suspect, thanks to ad hoc support from private sector firm CyberTOOLBELT, as well as tracking his physical movements as he travelled from one country to another.
“I hope the results of Operation Delilah will stand as a reminder to cybercriminals across the world that law enforcement will continue to pursue them, and that this arrest will bring comfort to victims of the suspect’s alleged campaigns,” the Assistant Inspector General added.
“This case underlines both the global nature of cybercrime and the commitment required to deliver a successful arrest through a global to regional operational approach in combatting cybercrime,” said Bernardo Pillot, INTERPOL’s Assistant Director, Cybercrime Operations.
“The persistence of national law enforcement agencies, private sector partners and the INTERPOL teams all contributed to this result, analysing vast quantities of data and providing technical and live operational support,” Mr Pillot added. “Cybercrime is a threat that none of our 195 member countries face alone.”