Nigeria partners with Interpol to shut down scam network
Officials arrested a Nigerian man behind an online fraud network that engineered $60 million in scams and took in hundreds of victims worldwide. The scams originated in the southern oil city of Port Harcourt, according to the international police agency Interpol. The arrest was carried out with the support of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“In one case, a target was conned into paying out $15.4 million,” Interpol said. “The network compromised email accounts of small to medium businesses around the world.”
The suspect ran a network of at least 40 people working from Nigeria, Malaysia and South Africa that used malware to carry out the fraud. He also had money-laundering contacts in China, Europe and the U.S. 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 email compromise and romance scams,” Interpol said.
The suspect and a fellow alleged fraudster who also was arrested in the city face charges including hacking, conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretenses.
Noboru Nakatani, executive director of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation, warned that scams in which the perpetrator sends emails designed to appear like business correspondence pose a significant and growing threat.
“The public, and especially businesses, need to be alert to this type of cyber-enabled fraud,” Nakatani said. “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.”