Home Tech News Internet scam: How Trend Micro tip-off led EFCC, INTERPOL to Nigerian suspect behind $60m heist

Internet scam: How Trend Micro tip-off led EFCC, INTERPOL to Nigerian suspect behind $60m heist

Internet scam: How Trend Micro tip-off led EFCC, INTERPOL to Nigerian suspect behind $60m heist
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A tip-off by Internet security company, Trend Micro, helped local and international law enforcement agencies to arrest ‘Mike’, a Nigerian alleged to have executed online scams valued over $60 million.

Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and INTERPOL, the international police organisation announced this week that they have jointly carried out an operation that led to the arrest of the international Internet scam suspect in Port Harcourt, Rivers State of Nigeria.

The 40-year-old, along with a 38-year-old also arrested by Nigerian authorities, faces charges including hacking, conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretences. Both are currently on administrative bail as the investigation continues, according to the law enforcement authorities.

Cyber crime
Cyber crime

[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]EFCC statement says the 40-year-old Nigerian national, known as ‘Mike’, was arrested in Port Harcourt and is believed to be behind scams totaling more than $60 million involving hundreds of victims worldwide.[/quote]According to the statement, a report on ‘Mike’ was 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, this year.

EFCC and INTERPOL alleged that the suspect, simply identified as “Mike” is the head of an international criminal network behind thousands of online frauds.

EFCC statement says the 40-year-old Nigerian national, known as ‘Mike’, was arrested in Port Harcourt and is believed to be behind scams totaling more than $60 million involving hundreds of victims worldwide.

According to the Nigerian anti-graft agency, Mike headed a network that had 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 all provided malware used to carry out the frauds, the “Mike”, 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, a forensic examination of devices seized by the EFCC showed he had been involved in a range of criminal activities relating to business e-mail compromise (BEC) and romance scams, the Nigerian agency says.

cyber crime
cyber crime

[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”] The main two types of scam run by the 40-year-old targeted businesses were 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.[/quote]The main two types of scam run by the 40-year-old targeted businesses were 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.

Abdul Chukkol, Head of the EFCC’s Cybercrime Section says the transnational nature of business e-mail compromise (BEC) makes it complex to crack, but the arrest sent 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,” according to Chukkol.

He says that “the success of this operation is the result of close cooperation between INTERPOL and the EFCC, whose understanding of the Nigerian environment made it possible to disrupt the criminal organization’s network traversing many countries, targeting individuals and companies.”

Noboru Nakatani, Executive Director of the IGCI warned that BEC poses a significant and growing threat, with tens of thousands of companies victimized in recent years.

“The public, and especially businesses, need to be alert to this type of cyber-enabled fraud,” adds Nakatani.

“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.

“It is exactly through this type of public and private sector cooperation that INTERPOL will continue to help member countries in bringing cybercriminals to justice no matter where they are,” Nakatani says.

 

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Success Kafoi Journalist at Technology Times Media. Mobile: 08077671673 email: success.kafoi@technologytimes.ng

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