A man believed to be behind scams totalling more than USD 60 million has been arrested in River State, Nigeria.
He was arrested in a joint operation by INTERPOL and the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
One of his victims was conned into paying out USD 15.4 million.
‘Mike’ allegedly headed a network of at least 40 individuals across Nigeria, Malaysia and South Africa which both provided malware and carried out the frauds.
He also had money laundering contacts in China, Europe and the US who provided bank account details for the illicit cash flow.
The two main types of scam ‘Mike” operated targeting 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 said 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,” Mr Chukkol said. “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.”
‘Mike’ was arrested along with a 38-year-old man. They face charges including hacking, conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretences. INTERPOL said both are currently on administrative bail as the investigation continues.