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Nigeria’s Internet Fraudsters Focus on Corporate e-mail – Report

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West Africa’s infamous Internet scammers have shifted their targets from impersonations of online love interests, princes and US soldiers to hijacking corporate e-mails, costing businesses hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

It is a much more lucrative venture that works by gaining access to corporate e-mail login details or passing off almost-identical addresses as the real deal, a scam known as business e-mail compromise (BEC), according to a report by cyber security firm CrowdStrike.

These Nigerian rackets now dwarf other types of online criminal theft, amounting to at least $5.3 billion of losses between October 2013 and the end of 2016, said CrowdStrike and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Centre (IC3).

“There’s a disproportionate amount of criminal gains they get from it. The lion’s share of ill-gotten, fraudulent money is around these business e-mail compromise attacks. It’s a huge problem for our customer set,” Adam Meyers, vice-president of intelligence at California-based CrowdStrike, told Reuters.

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 capers became known as “419 scams” after the section of the national penal code that dealt, ineffectively, with fraud.

Yahoo boys even impersonated a US forces commander in Afghanistan to defraud people by asking for help in recovering the assets of deceased soldiers. It forced the commander to issue a Facebook statement saying he would never try to contact anyone asking for financial help.

Now the scammers have bigger fish to fry, with the potential gains amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to CrowdStrike.

Behind the fraudsters is an organised crime network with its hands in human trafficking, drugs, prostitution, money laundering and e-mail fraud and cyber crime, the CrowdStrike report said. “The magnitude of this criminal threat has only recently begun to be understood.”

The Black Axe gang 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 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, Meyers said.

With that money, the Nigerian scammers are often enjoying the high life, said Meyers, noting social media accounts filled with pictures of them posing with luxury Mercedes cars, gold watches, jewellery and champagne.

“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.”

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FG May Include Telcos, ICT Firms in Forex Priority List

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Technology and telecommunications companies may become the latest addition to the forex priority list of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), according to Adebayo Shittu, minister of communications

 

Shittu, said there are ongoing talks with the CBN to achieve this.

 

He was speaking while inaugurating the ICT, Computers/Devices Service Centre in Abuja.

 

During 2016 recession, the CBN had created a forex priority list to conserve forex and ensure that the same is available for important parts of the economy.

 

Shittu was represented at the event by John Emeawa, director of planning, research and statistics (PRS) at the ministry.

 

“In this regard, I will proudly say that Nigeria has an array of young people with great energies and creative abilities to launch Nigeria into the league of world leading economies by leveraging on ICTs,” he said.

 

The minister said the Certified Computer Manufacturers of Nigeria (CCMON) collaborated with the ministry and its agencies in establishing the centre to ensure a competent workforce.

 

“Our collaboration with CCMON is intended to transform and build the capacity of the workforce in digital literacy and in preparation for a full implementation of the National e-Government masterplan.

 

“ICT Roadmap and also equip benefitting tech-savvy youths with entrepreneurial and job creation skills.

 

“I am happy to inform you that the Computer Service Center aligns with the implementation of the federal government’s Local Content Initiative.”

 

Shittu said the centre will support all systems bought in the public service, saying it was a pilot project of the ministry with plans to be replicated in every MDAs to provide after sales and services support.

 

“Such after sales support will ensure that computers bought by the government are duly maintained. This will stop all incidents of breakdowns and malfunctioning of computers used for government business.

 

“Consequently, the centre is for skills acquisition of staff that will provide services to various MDAs.

 

“The programme, therefore, will save costs for government and eliminate huge maintenance costs in government IT infrastructure.

 

“I wish to state that our ministry will continue to support CCMON as well as other equipment manufacturers to provide policy direction, who may wish to set up an assembly plant in Nigeria in the future.”

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Electricity Workers Threaten to Shut Power, Demand Sack of TCN MD

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Electricity workers threaten to shut power, demand sack of MD – Electricity workers yesterday in Abuja threatened to shut down power, unless the Federal Government sacks Usman Mohammed, managing director, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN)

 

The workers, under the auspices of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC), are accusing Mohammed of high handedness and anti-labour practices.

 

The union threatened to ground the entire power structure, if the government refused to heed its advice to relief the managing director of his appointment.

 

The workers’ threat followed the alleged administrative irregularities and high handedness of the Mohammed-led management.

 

TCN emerged from the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), following the merger of the Transmission and Operations sectors on April 1, 2004.

 

TCN represents one of the 18 unbundled business units under the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and was issued a transmission licence on July, 1, 2006.

 

The development prompted workers of the organisation to picket the TCN premise where they disrupted vehicular and commercial activities for several hours.

 

The workers, who spoke through Umar Abubakar, SSAEAC’s general secretary, accused Mohammed of allegedly flouting most of the administrative procedures, which they claimed were inimical to their welfare.

 

According to them, the MD allegedly single handedly conducted examinations for staff due for promotion without recourse to input from other management staff.

 

They alleged that the MD had defaulted in remitting taxes to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), a development that also led to the sealing of the organisation even before the workers staged their protest.

 

The workers also claimed the MD had hijacked some funds provided by the World Bank for projects in the power sector, including his alleged interference in union activities by his attempt to polarise the union.

 

They also alleged that the MD cleared a large consignment of electrical materials from foreign donors at the ports but failed to deliver same to the warehouse of the organisation for proper accountability, before distribution to the relevant sections.

 

The protesters said efforts by Sen. Chris Ngige, minister of Labour and Employment, and Babatunde Fashola, his counterpart in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, to intervene in the matter, proved abortive as Mohammed failed to turn up in several meetings.

 

“Our grievances stem from the fact that the MD on his own handled the promotion exercise and started to conduct it in his own way through the aid of consultants that to us is not the ideal process.” the angry worker said.

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LSETF & Coca-Cola System Sign MoU to Empower 1,000 Women under Coca-Cola 5by20 Programme

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The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Coca-Cola Nigeria Ltd and its bottling partner, Nigeria Bottling Company on Wednesday signed a partnership agreement to empower 1,000 women in Lagos State.

 

Through this partnership framework the selected women will receive training in financial literacy and business skills as well as start-up capital to integrate them into the Coca-Cola value chain as retailers of the Company’s beverage products.

 

This partnership is anchored on Coca-Cola’s 5by20 Programme which is the Company’s global commitment to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across the its value chain by 2020.

 

Akintunde Oyebode, representing Lagos State Employment Trust Fund at the MoU signing ceremony, stated that LSETF’s mandate is aimed at creating an enabling environment for Lagos residents to realize their business aspirations by providing leverage & access to finance for them to thrive, while ensuring employment and innovative opportunities for all residents of the state.

 

He said that” partnership with an organisation such as Coca-Cola assures us that we are working in the right direction and strengthens our commitment to building entrepreneurs within the state.

 

“We understand that to empower a woman, is to empower a whole generation.

 

“We will continue to provide accessible and affordable credit to support women as they seek to start or expand their businesses; because when we do, we create wealth and employment that alleviates poverty.”

 

Mr Bhupendra Suri, Managing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, reiterated the company’s commitment saying, “Now more than ever, we are certain of our commitment to the well-being of our communities, a critical part of which are our women.

 

“As pillars of their communities, women invest a sizable portion of the income they earn on the health and education of their children and in their local economies, creating a tremendous economic impact.

 

“Lagos State Employment Trust Fund is our partner of choice for this initiative considering our shared vision on women empowerment and its vast network across the State.”

 

He further stated that realizing the vision of enabling the economic empowerment of 5 million women by 2020 depends on building scalable models and powerful partnerships, across business, civil society and government, which is vital to maximizing the impact of their programs and making them more sustainable.

 

Mrs Sade Morgan, Legal and Public Affairs Communication Director, Nigeria Bottling company, in agreement, said, “As a part of The Coca-Cola System, we understand the importance of partnerships.

 

“Our business and its growth in Nigeria are a result of strategic partnerships with distributors, retailers and our consumers.

 

“Whenever there is a call to collaborate for sustainable impact, we ensure we are there to support it with our expertise.

 

“We will work to position each beneficiary in strategic locations that are profitable and link them up to our distribution network, so that the ripple effect of individual growth can be felt across our society.”

 

Coca-Cola and its bottling partner, Nigeria Bottling Company, will provide access to Coca-Cola trade assets (including coolers, tables, umbrellas and Coca-Cola beverage products); peer networks, funds for training and support beneficiaries in the set-up of retail outlets in commercially viable locations; linking them to the nearest Coca-Cola distributors.

 

LSETF will fund the trade assets and co-fund the programme implementation while also leading the identification and recruitment of participants to the programme.

 

This timely and welcome public private partnership is the second one between Lagos State Government and Coca-Cola System, the first one having been launched in 2012 and has so far empowered 300 women in the State.

 

 

 

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