The Nigeria Police Force and INTERPOL announced the arrest of a prominent business email compromise (BEC) actor who has been active since 2015. His apprehension marks the latest success for Operation Delilah – a counter-BEC operation that began in May 2021 and has involved international law enforcement and industry cooperation across four continents.
BEC remains the most common and most costly threat facing organizations globally. This threat held the top spot for the sixth year in a row on the 2021 FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) report. Over half a decade, global losses have ballooned from $360 million in 2016 to a staggering $2.3 billion in 2021. Despite these massive loss amounts, industry and global law enforcement continue to make considerable strides toward thwarting this activity.
Unit 42 tracks Nigerian BEC actors under the name SilverTerrier. Following the arrest of 11 BEC actors as part of Operation Falcon II in December 2021, this recent operation is significant in that it demonstrates the resolve of global law enforcement to hold BEC actors accountable despite temporary setbacks. Specifically, in this case, the SilverTerrier actor fled Nigeria in 2021 when authorities initially attempted to apprehend him. Investigators began to map out and track the alleged malicious online activities of the suspect, thanks to ad hoc support from private sector firm CyberTOOLBELT, as well as tracking his physical movements as he travelled from one country to another. Nigerian law enforcement identified and successfully apprehended the suspect at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, as he attempted to re-enter Nigeria. This level of international cooperation, tracking of actors as they travel internationally and subsequent apprehension of actors upon returning to their home countries represents a laudable advancement in the ability of global law enforcement organizations to combat these types of crimes.
“I hope the results of Operation Delilah will stand as a reminder to cybercriminals across the world that law enforcement will continue to pursue them, and that this arrest will bring comfort to victims of the suspect’s alleged campaigns.” Garba Baba Umar, The Assistant Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force, Head of Nigeria’s INTERPOL National Central Bureau and Vice President for Africa on INTERPOL’s Executive Committee stated.
“This case underlines both the global nature of cybercrime and the commitment required to deliver a successful arrest through a global to regional operational approach in combatting cybercrime,” said Bernardo Pillot, INTERPOL’s Assistant Director, Cybercrime Operations.
“The persistence of national law enforcement agencies, private sector partners and the INTERPOL teams all contributed to this result, analysing vast quantities of data and providing technical and live operational support. Cybercrime is a threat that none of our 195 member countries face alone.” Added Mr Pillot.
The arrest of this alleged prominent cybercriminal in Nigeria is testament to the perseverance of our international coalition of Law Enforcement and INTERPOL’s private sector partners in combating cybercrime.