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US Charges Nigerian, Others for Stealing $530m in Global Fraud

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The US Justice Department on Wednesday announced charges against 36 individuals as part of a takedown of a massive online cyber crime ring that trafficked in stolen personal and financial information.

 

The alleged co-conspirators participated in an international cyber crime ring called Infraud, which facilitated the sale of stolen identities, credit card data, financial information, Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information through an online discussion forum. The operation was also used to sell and purchase malware.

 

Officials said that 13 of the defendants have already been arrested, including five Americans.

 

Anthony Nnamdi Okeakpu, a Nigerian based in the UK who is alleged to have joined in December 2010 and have used the nickname “moneymafia”.

 

Other defendants include Svyatoslav Bondarenko, a Ukranian accused of having created Infraud in October 2010.

 

Five apprehended defendants were based in the US while others came from France, Canada, Pakistan, Russia Egypt, Italy and Macedonia among other countries

 

Officials estimate that the operation netted $530 million in illicit profits from financial institutions, consumers and other victims throughout the world over a seven-year period.

 

“We have victims in all 50 states and throughout the world,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Rybicki told reporters Wednesday. “It’s really a standout in terms of the amount of damage that it caused.”

 

Rybicki described the marketplace as “the one-stop shop for cyber criminals worldwide.”

 

According to the criminal indictment unsealed Wednesday, the Infraud organization was set up in October 2010 by a Ukrainian national. Through their investigation, officials identified over 10,000 individuals who traded and purchased personal information and other stolen data on the black market.

 

Officials made 13 arrests on Tuesday, which also included individuals from six other countries. Eighteen of the remaining defendants will need to be extradited to the United States in order to be apprehended.

 

The alleged criminals have been charged with racketeering and other crimes and face at least 20 years in prison each if found guilty. The online database enabled identity theft, wire fraud, bank fraud and other computer crimes.

 

The cyber crime ring takedown was the result of a joint operation between the U.S. attorney’s office in Nevada, the Justice Department’s criminal division and the Department of Homeland Security’s criminal investigations unit, with help from officials in several other countries. The case is being prosecuted by U.S. attorneys in Nevada.

 

“Today marks a significant step in the battle against transnational cyber crime,” Rybicki said.

 

The investigation into the cyber crime operation is still ongoing. Officials would not say whether the data trafficked on the forum has been linked to high-profile data breaches such as the hack of credit reporting firm Equifax disclosed last year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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E-Financial

Court Jails Union Bank Head of Ops over N450m Fraud

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Mr Paul Onwughalu, former Head of Operations at the Head Office of Union Bank Plc

Mr Paul Onwughalu, former Head of Operations at the Head Office of Union Bank Plc in Marina, Lagos, has been sentenced to three years imprisonment for his involvement in fraud to the tune of N450 million.

 

Mr Onwughalu was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in February 2014 before Justice S.S. Ogunsanya of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja on a four-count charge bordering on failure to conduct due diligence in financial transactions.

 

Ruling on the matter in March 2018, Justice Ogunsanya found the accused guilty of the offence and sentenced him to three years imprisonment on each count.

One of the counts read, “That you, Paul Onwughalu, on or about the 9th of January, 2013, at Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division, whilst being an employee of Union Bank Plc, failed to exercise due diligence in relation to the conduct of financial transactions with one DanKawu Bureau De Change by confirming and authorizing payment of the sum of N450 million fraudulently transferred by hacking into Union Bank database (flexcube) and transferring the said sum to Union Bank Plc account of one DanKawu Bureau De Change domiciled in Union Bank, Head Office Branch, Marina, Lagos and thereby facilitated the crediting and withdrawal of the said sum by one DanKawu Bureau De Change to various accounts in Ecobank, Diamond Bank, Zenith Bank, United Bank for Africa and Dankawu Bureau De Change.”

 

The accused had pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him, thereby setting the stage for his full trial.

 

In the course of the trial, the prosecution counsel, Fadeke Giwa, presented a number of witnesses and tendered various documents that were admitted in evidence by the court.

 

However, counsel to the convict, O. Fagbemi, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing his client.

 

 

 

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African Development Bank Delivers Strong Operational Results

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The African Development Bank is delivering on its goals and making good progress towards achieving its development and operational targets according to the 2018 Annual Development Effectiveness Review (ADER) (link is external), which was released at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Busan, Republic of Korea.

Every year, ADER scrutinizes the Bank’s operational effectiveness and its organizational efficiency, using the Bank’s results measurement framework for 2016-2025. It brings together evidence of strengths and weaknesses to provide management with a clear understanding of what has worked well and what the Bank must do better to achieve its High 5 development goals.

“The report shows that the African Development Bank is delivering on its commitment to help Africa achieve the Bank’s High 5 priorities,” said Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President. “The Bank continues to strengthen its effectiveness as an organization, while scaling up its operations.”

This year’s ADER has a special focus on industrializing Africa. “There are good reasons to be optimistic that industrialization is achievable in the coming years. Africa is open for business, with stable economies and supportive business environments,” said Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina. “It has a young and growing workforce that is increasingly global in outlook. Urbanization and the rise of the African middle class are opening up new consumer markets, which act as a magnet for investors.”

In 2017, companies had improved access to transport, energy, and skills, which expanded their ability to do business across the continent. The Bank contributed to these improvement: it provided 14 million people with access to transport – well above its target – while building or rehabilitating 2,500 km of roads in 2017 and also helped 210,000 small and micro businesses access finance, which benefitted 2.6 million people.

“This level of performance is promising, but we must continue driving operational delivery and impact,” said Simon Mizrahi, Bank Director for Delivery, Performance Management and Results.

The Bank is scaling up its efforts to accelerate the pace of industrialization, supported by its presence in 38 countries and by timely and quality operations. This backbone and experience position the Bank well to mobilize more resources from institutional investors around the world for industrial development.

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EMVCo Creates Royalty-free Mark to Promote Use of QR codes

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EMVCo, the global technical body that manages EMV specifications, has introduced a QR payment trademark designed to promote the global interoperability and use of EMV QR code payments.

EMVCo has released reproduction requirements for the mark and a licensing structure that allows any organization that uses an EMV QR code solution to also use the mark at no cost, a press release said.

According to EMVCo, QR codes are increasingly being used to facilitate mobile payments at the point of sale. Last year, the organization published specifications to address two QR code payment use-cases:

–  Consumer-presented — consumers display the QR code on their mobile device and the merchant uses an optical scanner to read the code.

–  Merchant-presented — the merchant displays the QR code and consumers use their mobile device to scan the code.

The QR payment mark can be used to inform consumers that a merchant accepts these types of payment solutions.

The QR payment mark can also be used as an application indicator on a consumer mobile device when initiating a consumer-presented transaction.

A royalty-free trademark license agreement and reproduction requirements are available in EMVCo’s Trademark Centre.

“The development of a uniform, recognizable QR payment mark that can be used on a royalty-free basis is an important step towards providing a universally consistent experience for both merchants and consumers,” EMVCo executive Committee Chair Jack Pan said in the release.

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