OKORO CHINEDU in Lagos, Nigeria
LAGOS, (CAJ News) – A joint operation by INTERPOL and the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has arrested the alleged head of an international criminal network behind thousands of online frauds.
The 40-year-old Nigerian national, known as ‘Mike’, is believed to be behind scams totaling more than US$60 million involving hundreds of victims worldwide. He has been arrested alongside a 38-year-old man in the southern city of Port Harcourt.
They faces charges of hacking, conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretences. Both are currently on administrative bail as the investigation continues. The main scams are payment diversion fraud and ‘CEO fraud.’
In one case a target was conned into paying out $15, 4 million.
The alleged network compromised email accounts of small to medium businesses around the world including in Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, Romania, South Africa, Thailand and the US, with the financial victims mainly other companies dealing with these compromised accounts.
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 in southern Nigeria, 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.
Abdul Chukkol, Head of the EFCC’s Cybercrime Section said the transnational nature of business e-mail compromise makes it complex to crack, but the arrest signaled Nigeria could not be considered a safe haven for criminals.
– CAJ News