According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, cyberscams attacking businesses, known as the Business Email Compromise, has led to $3.1 billion in attempted stolen funds across 79 countries.
On Tuesday (Aug. 2), INTERPOL announced a successful attack against some of those figures.
The International Criminal Police Organization said it has arrested the alleged ringleader of an international business email scam based in Nigeria. Simply known as “Mike,” the 40-year-old is alleged to have led cyberattacks against businesses that resulted in $60 million stolen.
One Business Email Compromise scam in particular resulted in $15.4 million stolen, according to reports.
“Mike” allegedly headed the cybercrime ring that spanned Nigeria, Malaysia and South Africa. According to INTERPOL, the crime used malware to hack into the email accounts of SMEs across the globe. Business Email Compromises often take the form of a fraudulent email that is seemingly a legitimate request from a company executive to make a supplier payment to a certain account.
INTERPOL said an examination of devices seized by law enforcement officials revealed two main tactics deployed by the crime ring.
First, the criminals would hack into a supplier email account to send a fraudulent email to one of its corporate buyers and request payment to a certain account. The second strategy involved so-called CEO fraud, in which the criminals hacked into the email accounts of corporate executives and requested money wire transfers.
Reports said Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, Romania, South Africa, Thailand and the U.S. were all targeted by the gang of cybercriminals. The stolen funds were reportedly laundered through accounts in the U.S., China and Europe.
INTERPOL made the arrest in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, in collaboration with the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crime Commission, reports added. Trend Micro and Fortinet also provided cyberintelligence services to the initiative.
“Mike” and another suspect arrested by INTERPOL face charges of hacking, conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretenses, reports said.