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Law Enforcement Operation in Africa Leads to Arrest of 14 Suspected Cybercriminals

In a significant collaboration between law enforcement agencies spanning 25 African nations, INTERPOL made an exciting announcement on Friday regarding the successful outcome of their coordinated operation. This operation, carried out in partnership with AFRIPOL, has resulted in the apprehension of 14 individuals suspected of engaging in cybercrime activities.

The extensive effort, known as Africa Cyber Surge II, unfolded over a period of four months starting in April 2023. The primary objective of this operation was to track down cybercriminals and compromised digital infrastructure responsible for substantial financial losses, amounting to over $40 million.

During this operation, investigators managed to pinpoint a staggering total of 20,674 cyber networks that had direct connections to the aforementioned financial losses. These networks were the focal points of cybercrime activities that had severe implications for financial security and integrity.

Among the successes of Africa Cyber Surge II were the apprehensions of three suspects in Cameroon who were allegedly involved in a sophisticated online scam. This scam centered around the fraudulent sale of valuable artworks, collectively valued at $850,000. Similarly, in Nigeria, a suspect was taken into custody for orchestrating a fraudulent scheme that targeted a victim from Gambia, resulting in financial losses due to deceit.

Furthermore, the operation led to the arrest of two money mules who were intricately linked to various scams that were executed through popular messaging platforms. These individuals played crucial roles in the propagation of cybercrime activities that exploited innocent victims.

The cyber networks under scrutiny encompassed an array of illicit elements, including 3,786 command-and-control (C2) servers, 14,134 victim IP addresses associated with data-stealing infections, 1,415 domains and links involved in phishing, 939 IP addresses responsible for scams, and more than 400 malicious URLs, IPs, and botnets. The operation also saw the dismantling of two darknet sites that were facilitating cybercriminal activities.

One of the private sector collaborators in this operation, Group-IB, played an essential role in identifying the domains, URLs, and server IP addresses linked to phishing attempts and malware attacks. This partnership underscored the significance of cooperation between law enforcement agencies and private sector entities in combatting cybercrime effectively.

This recent achievement follows in the footsteps of the Africa Cyber Surge initiative launched in July 2022. The primary aim of this earlier effort was to counter cybercrime and detect compromised digital infrastructure across the African continent. The inaugural operation resulted in the arrest of 11 individuals and the dismantling of a dark web marketplace that specialized in peddling hacking tools and cybercrime-as-a-service (CaaS) packages. Additionally, more than 200,000 instances of malicious infrastructure were neutralized as part of the operation.

These accomplishments highlight the growing commitment of African nations to collaborate and combat cyber threats, ultimately fostering a safer digital environment for their citizens and businesses alike.

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