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 baddest guy is believed to be behind scams totalling more than USD60m involving hundreds of victims worldwide. In one case a target was conned into paying out as much as $15.4m.
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’