- A report stated the Nigerian scammers, popularly known as “Yahoo Boys”, has adopted a new scamming method
- The scammers now reportedly hijack corporate emails, costing businesses hundreds of millions of dollars a year
- The report stated that the scammers launder the fraudulent money through a series of bank accounts that can be traced to Hong Kong and China
West Africa’s infamous internet scamming has reportedly evolved, dropping impersonations of online love interests, princes and United States soldiers in favour of hijacking corporate emails, costing businesses hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
According to a report by cybersecurity firm, CrowdStrike, issued on Thursday, May 3, the new scamming a much more lucrative venture that works by gaining access to corporate email login details or passing off almost-identical addresses as the real deal.
The new scam is known as Business Email Compromise (BEC).
The BEC scam now dwarfs other types of online criminal theft, amounting to at least $5.3bn of losses between October 2013 and the end of 2016, according to the CrowdStrike and the US FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
“There’s a disproportionate amount of criminal gains they get from it,” the vice-president of Intelligence at the California-based CrowdStrike, Adam Meyers, told Reuters.
“The lion’s share of ill-gotten, fraudulent money is around these business email compromise attacks. It’s a huge problem for our customer set,” he added.
Nigeria has become one of the hubs of BEC. Nigerian online fraudsters, known as “Yahoo boys”, became notorious for trying to pass themselves off as people in financial need or Nigerian princes offering an outstanding return on an investment.
The fraud became known as “419 scams” after the section of the national penal code that dealt with fraud.
“Yahoo boys” even allegedly impersonated a US forces commander in Afghanistan to defraud people by asking for help in recovering the assets of deceased soldiers.
The scam reportedly forced the commander to issue a Facebook statement saying he would never try to contact anyone asking for financial help.
Now, it seems the scammers have dropped the impersonation game as they now have bigger fish to fry; a new scam style with the potential gains amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to CrowdStrike.
CrowdStrike further added that the Black Axe gang, an organised crime network with its hands in human trafficking, drugs, prostitution, money laundering and email fraud and cybercrime, is behind the new fraudsters.
“The magnitude of this criminal threat has only recently begun to be understood,” the report said.
The Black Axe gang allegedly sprang from Nigerian universities and now extends from Africa to North America, Europe and Asia.
Its targets have ranged from semiconductor makers to schools in the US states including Connecticut and Minnesota, passing themselves off as executives and lawyers to trick employees into wiring sometimes millions of dollars a day into bank accounts.
From there, the money is quickly laundered through a series of bank accounts that can be traced to Hong Kong and China, where the trail often goes cold because diverging regulations foil monitoring, CrowdStrike’s Meyers said.
Meyers added that with that money, the Nigerian scammers are often enjoying the high life noting that social media accounts are filled with pictures of them posing with luxury Mercedes cars, gold watches, jewelry and champagne.
He said: “It’s really hard to stop; you can’t stop it with anti-virus or any kind of software, it’s really kind of a human problem.”
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that four suspected internet fraudsters were arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) on Saturday, April 7, 2018, in the Lekki area of Lagos state.
The development made public via the Facebook page of the anti-graft agency.
The suspects were identified as Ale Daniel, Tunde Badmus, Adams Tunde Adedeji and Ajiboye Gbenga.
The suspects were arrested for various offenses bordering on cybercrimes and money laundering, and the raid was carried out following intelligence reports concerning their flamboyant lifestyle. During the operation, exotic cars and charms were recovered.
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