Over 70 suspected cyber fraudsters have been apprehended by operatives of the International Criminal Police Organization, following a coordinated operation, which the INTERPOL says confirms the global footprint of Nigeria’s Black Axe and similar organized crime groups.
In its latest statement regarding the recent crackdown on West-African financial crime rings, the INTERPOL said in the codenamed Operation Jackal, the joint law enforcement effort mobilized 14 countries across four continents in a targeted strike against Black Axe and related West-African criminal organizations.
According to the communique, Operation Jackal marks the first time INTERPOL has coordinated a global operation specifically against Black Axe, which is rapidly becoming a major security threat worldwide.
Black Axe and similar groups are responsible for the majority of the world’s cyber-enabled financial fraud as well as many other serious crimes, according to evidence analyzed by INTERPOL’s Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC) and national law enforcement.
In South Africa alone, the two suspects arrested were wanted for online scams that extracted USD 1.8 million from victims.
Lifeblood of organized crime
Over one coordinated ‘action week’ (26-30 September), police worldwide launched enforcement operations against individuals linked to the Black Axe group, arresting suspected criminal operators or money mules, raiding and shutting down premises and seizing assets related to ongoing cases.
Two INTERPOL operational support teams were also deployed to South Africa and Ireland respectively to help coordinate international law enforcement teams on the ground. In Italy, the Carabinieri made three arrests in Campobasso within the framework of the operation.
In total, the operation resulted in:
EUR 1.2 million intercepted in bank accounts, 75 arrests, 49 property searches, 7 INTERPOL Purple Notices, detailing criminal modus operandi, 6 INTERPOL Red Notices, issued for internationally-wanted fugitives
“Illicit financial funds are the lifeblood of transnational organized crime, and we have witnessed how groups like Black Axe will channel money gained from online financial scams into other crime areas, such as drugs and human trafficking. These groups demand a global response,” said Stephen Kavanagh, Executive Director of Police Services, INTERPOL.