INTERPOL, EFCC arrest ringleader of $60m global scam network
INTERPOL and the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have arrested the head of an international criminal network allegedly behind thousands of online frauds.
The 40-year-old Nigerian, known as ‘Mike’, is believed to be behind scams totalling more than $60m, involving hundreds of victims worldwide. In one case, a target was conned into paying out $15.4m.
The network compromised e-mail accounts of small to medium businesses around the world including in Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, Romania, South Africa, Thailand and the US.
Heading 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 US, who provided bank account details for the illicit cash flow.
Following his arrest in Port Harcourt, a forensic examination of devices seized by the EFCC showed he had been involved in a range of criminal activities including business e-mail compromise (BEC) and romance scams.
The EFCC said ‘Mike’ first came onto the law enforcement radar through a report to INTERPOL by Trend Micro, one of its strategic partners at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore. This, combined with 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.
Head of the EFCC’s Cybercrime Section, Abdul Chukkol, said in Abuja that the transnational nature of business e-mail compromise makes it complex to crack, but that the arrest sends a signal that Nigeria cannot be considered a safe haven for criminals.
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