The Nigerian Police Force and the INTERPOL cybercrime unit have arrested a 37-year-old Nigerian man in an international operation that spans four continents, organized and promoted by a newly built African desk affiliated with the INTERPOL cybercrime unit.
The latest arrests announced in a statement on Wednesday, May 25, followed a spate last year that led to the arrest of more than a dozen Nigerian suspects in a notorious Nigerian criminal organization called “SilverTerrier” by Internet security company Palo Alto Networks.
The suspect is accused of having an international cybercrime organization that launched numerous cybercrime campaigns and compromised business email programs targeted at companies and individual victims.
It is believed that the group has targeted at least 50,000 victims since its inception in 2014. Authorities initially tried to apprehend the suspect in 2021 but he escaped and was arrested when he tried to re-enter Nigeria in March 2022.
The law and online law firms have seen an alarming increase in the number of cybercrime in recent years, using the context of COVID-19 and forming what INTERPOL Secretary-General Jürgen Stock calls a “similar epidemic”, the statement read.
The INTERPOL Africa Desk, called the African Joint Operation against Cybercrime (AFJOC) and sponsored by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, was launched in May 2021 to increase the capacity of 49 African countries in the fight against cybercrime.
That same month, a police operation, called code Delilah, began spying on several INTERPOL partners from the private sector: Group-IB, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 and Trend Micro.
The ingenuity has been advised by analysts at INTERPOL’s Cyber Fusion Center, which brings together law enforcement and industry experts to turn criminal knowledge into a work ethic. AFJOC’s INTERPOL desk then transferred intelligence to Nigeria and was followed by a series of legal liaison meetings supported by lawmakers in Australia, Canada and the United States.
Investigators began mapping and tracking the suspect’s alleged online cruelty, thanks to the temporary support of the independent company CyberTOOLBELT, as well as tracking his physical movements as he traveled from one country to another. Nigerian authorities have successfully arrested the suspect at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.
“The arrest of this alleged cybercrime in Nigeria is a testament to the firmness of our international law enforcement alliance and INTERPOL partners in the private sector in the fight against cybercrime,” said Garba Baba Umar, Deputy Inspector General of Nigeria Police Force, Head of INTERPOL of Nigeria. National Central Bureau and Deputy President of Africa on the INTERPOL Executive Committee.
“I hope that the results of Operation Delilah will serve as a reminder to cybercriminals around the world that law enforcement will continue to pursue them, and that these arrests will comfort victims of suspected suspect campaigns,” added the Inspector General.
“This case underscores both the global nature of cybercrime and the commitment required to effectively arrest people using an international to regional approach to cybercrime,” said Bernardo Pillot, Assistant Director of INTERPOL, Cybercrime Crime Services.
“The persistence of national law enforcement agencies, industry partners and INTERPOL teams all contributed to this outcome, analyzing extensive data and providing technical assistance and live performance,” said Mr Pillot. member states face each other. “he added.