Interpol arrests 14 who allegedly scammed $40m from victims in 'cyber surge'
Cops credit security shops with an assist, tho it's a drop in the ocean
An Interpol-led operation arrested 14 suspects and identified 20,674 "suspicious" networks spanning 25 African countries that international cops have linked to more than $40 million in cybercrime losses.
Africa Cyber Surge II, a combined police operation which began in April and lasted four months, was a coordinated effort between Interpol, African law enforcement, and private-sector security firms to disrupt online extortion, phishing, business email compromise (BEC) and other cyber scams. But given that BEC scams cost billions of dollars a year it's small change.
Interpol, Afripol, and infosec companies Group-IB and Uppsala Security provided on-the-ground operational support, the international agency said. This included helping with three arrests in Cameroon related to an online scam involving the fraudulent sale of works of art worth $850,000.
Additionally, police in Nigeria arrested a suspect who allegedly defrauded a victim in Gambia, and police in Mauritius arrested two suspected money mules linked to messaging platform scams. Plus, Cameroonian authorities took down two darknet sites, and Kenyan law enforcement shut down 615 malware separate hosting operations.
Group-IB, which has previously worked with Interpol on previous operations, collected and shared more than 1,000 indicators from its threat intelligence, according to the security shop.
"Collaboration and intelligence sharing should be at the heart of cybersecurity operations, and Group-IB stands ready to make a further contribution to this end, in line with our core strategic mission of fighting against cybercrime in all its forms," Group-IB CEO Dmitry Volkov said in a statement Friday.
In total, information shared by Group-IB and other private partners Trend Micro, Kaspersky, and Coinbase led to some 150 Interpol analytical reports containing intel on cyber threats targeting specific countries, we're told.
These reports included details about:
- 3,786 malicious command and control servers
- 14,134 victim IPs linked to data stealer cases
- 1,415 phishing links and domains
- 939 scam IPs
- More than 400 other malicious URLs, IPs and botnets.
The first part of the Africa Cyber Surge operation took place between July 2022 and November 2022. It also resulted in a series of investigations and operations against cybercriminals in the region.
The most recent arrests follow several months of similar activity across Africa as international law enforcement attempts to disrupt cybercrime rings that operate out of several countries on the continent.
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Interpol last week reported the arrest of more than 100 people across the EU and Africa. Cops also seized more than €2.15 million ($2.4m) in assets belonging to the Black Axe crime/cyber crime syndicate.
The West Africa-based group is described as a "violent, mafia-like" gang that specializes in BEC, romance scams, credit card fraud, money laundering and other illicit activities, according to Interpol.
In July, cops in Côte d'Ivoire said they arrested a suspected "key figure" of a cybercrime group dubbed OPERA1ER reported to have stolen from more than 30 banks and financial orgs across 15 countries.
Interpol, which led the operation, said the gang has stolen between $11 million and $30 million from these organizations across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. ®