A cybercriminal with ties to South Africa has been arrested in Nigeria, as part of a joint operation by Interpol and the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
While the cybercriminal was a Nigerian national, the perpetrator apparently operated a cybercrime ring that in which he orchestrated the operations of 40 individuals across Nigeria, Malaysia and South Africa.
“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,” Interpol said in a statement.
The group carried out malware attacks and also committed several counts of fraud. It’s also accused of money laundering in China, Europe and the US.
Interpol stated that the cybercrime operation raked in around $60 million from victims around the world. In one case, a victim was conned out of $15.4 million.
“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’,” Interpol said.
The alleged mastermind of the operation was first brought to the attention of Interpol by Trend Micro, which is also one of Interpol’s strategic partners at the Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore.
A team was deployed to help with the investigation, which included analysis and intelligence from Fortinet Fortiguard Labs, specialists at the Interpol Digital Crime Centre, experts from Cyber Defense Institute based at the IGCI, and the EFCC.
“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. 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,” explained Abdul Chukkol, Head of the EFCC’s Cybercrime Section.
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