Interpol arrested a Nigerian man allegedly responsible for stealing more than $60 million from hundreds of victims around the world through a host of online scams.
The 40-year-old scammer, known as “Mike,” faces charges international fraud, hacking and conspiracy for running numerous online scams after being arrested in southern Nigeria, Interpol said in a statement.
While Mike may not be behind all of the ubiquitous “Nigerian Prince” scams, he and his network of more than 40 fraudsters were engaged in “romance scams,” where the scammer develops a relationship with a mark and exploits them for money, Interpol said.(RELATED: Substitute Teacher Banned For Allegedly Soliciting Student Cash For Nigerian Lottery Scam)
Mike’s criminal network primarily targeted businesses using compromised email accounts, according to Interpol. In one case, the fraudsters conned a victim out of $15 million.
The scammers would pretend to be the company’s supplier and send “instructions for payment to a bank account under the criminal’s control,” according to Interpol.
They would also try to compromise a CEO’s own email account and use it to send emails instructing employees to pay money into accounts owned by the scammers.
Business email compromise is a global threat, and tens of thousands of companies have been victimized in the past few years, Interpol said.
“The public, and especially businesses, need to be alert to this type of cyber-enabled fraud,” said Noboru Nakatani, executive director of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation, the division which first noticed the scams.
The scammers worked out of Nigeria, Malaysia and South Africa, but also laundered money through bank accounts in China, Europe and the U.S., Interpol said.
Interpol and the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crime Commission are still investigating Mike’s crime ring. Mike and one of his accomplices, who was also arrested by Interpol, are currently out on administrative bail.’
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