Cyber criminals Rake In $2.7 Million From Businesses, $422,000 From Individuals – InterPol

A report on the activities of West African cyber criminals has been released by Joint Trend Micro and INTERPOL. The report which is part of the ongoing Cybercriminal Underground Economy Series (CUES) revealed that scams targeting individuals and businesses have grown exponentially since 2013.
The INTERPOL survey showed West African cybercriminals rake in an average $2.7 million from businesses and $422,000 from individuals. The two threat actors listed in the report are Yahoo Boys and Next-Level cybercriminals.
“Yahoo boys rely on Yahoo apps to communicate, they focus on less technically advanced schemes, including advanced-fee, stranded traveler and romance scams under the supervision of a ringleader. Next-Level Cybercriminals are able to execute more sophisticated attacks, such as Business Email Compromise (BEC) and tax scams. Next-Level Cybercriminals also maintain connections and accounts overseas as a way to feign legitimacy with their victims and keep law enforcement at arm’s length,” the report reads.
To pull off these sophisticated social engineering tactics, Trend Micro significantly increased its research and effort into the crimes committed by Next-Level Cybercriminals.
In Ghana where the ritualization of online fraud, sakawa, is practiced, Sakawa recognizes that a Supreme Being blesses scammers with protection and good fortune, eliminating the unethical implications and encouraging West Africans to defraud foreign victims.
A survey conducted by INTERPOL revealed thateach year nearly half of the 1 million graduates from more than 668 African universities are unemployed.
“This joint paper shows that criminals across the region are becoming more technically savvy, and this emerging underground market will require an even stronger law enforcement response in the future, both in terms of training for investigators and ensuring the appropriate legislation is in place,” said Noboru Nakatani, Executive Director of INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI).
Highlighting the importance of the research, Nakatani noted that the research also puts into limelight, the importance of public-private partnerships in identifying and arresting criminals, as well as educating businesses and governments about cyber threats.
One such collaboration in 2016 resulted in the arrest of a Nigerian national who had extorted $60 million from businesses around the world using BEC scams.
Despite roadblocks related to investigating cybercrime in the West African region, the INTERPOL survey revealed 30 percent of crimes reported to law enforcement each year lead to arrests.

Nigerian Ringleader Of Global Network Behind Thousands Of Online Scams Arrested In Rivers State – Interpol

A Nigerian suspected of being in charge of a network of internet scammers, stealing around $60m (£45m), has been arrested in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

According to the international police organisation, the 40-year-old Nigerian known as ‘Mike’, the head of an international criminal network behind thousands of online frauds was arrested in a joint operation by INTERPOL and the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
The Nigerian national is believed to be behind scams totalling more than USD 60 million involving hundreds of victims worldwide. In one case a target was conned into paying out USD 15.4 million.
The 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.
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.
‘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, Head of the EFCC’s Cybercrime Section said the transnational nature of business e-mail compromise 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,” said Mr Chukkol.
“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,” added Mr Chukkol.
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” said Mr 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,” concluded Mr Nakatani.
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.


Fight Against Boko Haram, ISIS At Decisive Stage- INTERPOL

The International Police, INTERPOL,on Tuesday said that its fight against Boko Haram, ISIS and other terrorist organizations is at a decisive stage.

INTERPOL’s Secretary General, Mr.Jürgen Stock, who said this while addressing the Foreign Terrorist Fighters(FTF) working groups of the Global Counter-terrorism Forum in The Hague, added that combination of shifts in travel patterns, attacks far from conflict zones, online communications and fraudulent travel documents have led to a ‘decisive stage’ in the fight against terrorism globally.

In his speech, INTERPOL’s Secretary General Stock said the continued resolve of the international community would be required to address the evolution of the terrorist threat.

He pressed further that with Da’esh drawing allegiance from around the globe, the need for coordinated action was essential, not just in identifying and interdicting individuals, but in stopping the funding for their terrorist activities as underlined in the recent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2253.

His words:  “Access to information from abroad is essential if we are to strengthen the security net to prevent the terrorists from moving freely and constrict their support networks.

“Ensuring direct access to INTERPOL’s global databases means that instant checks can be conducted against nearly 55 million travel documents, some 200,000 nominal identifiers and more than 40,000 notices of suspected and wanted criminals and terrorists.

“As a global, neutral platform, INTERPOL is ideally placed to share data from our 190 member countries to support them in ensuring this information is where it needs to be,”

He pressed further that among the documents in INTERPOL’s unique global SLTD database are nearly 30,000 Syrian passports, of which some 4,000 were reported stolen as blank.

Credit: Leadership