12 ‘African cybercriminals’ arrested in $435-million bust

OWN CORRESPONDENT

IN a major crackdown, the Dubai Police have sconducted synchronised raids and arrested 12 members of an alleged “African” cybercrime syndicate that they believe stole over $435-million. 

Those arrested include social media celebrities – Raymond Igbalode Abbas, known as “Hushpuppi” and Olalekan Jacob Ponle, known as “Woodberry”. The two, believed to be Nigerians, have become famous for flaunting their wealth and five-star lifestyle on social media. 

The Dubai Police have recently arrested Raymond Igbalode Abbas, also known as “Hushpuppi” and Olalekan Jacob Ponle aka “Woodberry” along with ten African cybercriminals in a special operation. Dubai Police believe that the cyber gang defrauded 1 926 400 people and institutions.

During the raids, dubbed Operation Hunt Fox 2, Police confiscated:

  • $40.9-million in cash.
  • 21 laptops.
  • 47 cellular phones.
  • 15 Flash Drives.
  • 5 hard disks containing 119 580 fraudulent files.
  • 13 cars, including a Rolls Royces, a Bugatti, Ferraris, a Mercedes Benz G-Wagon believed to be worth millions.

The cyber gang stands accused of money-laundering, cyber fraud, hacking, criminal impersonating, scamming individuals, banking fraud and identity theft.

Major General Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Criminal Investigation Affairs, told the media that the suspects were caught in a series of synchronised raids by six SWAT teams from Dubai Police. “The operation was carried out in a highly professional manner in terms of planning and execution as well as setting a zero hour to take down all gang members at the same time,” Al Mansouri said.

Al Mansouri said the operation foiled the gang’s bid to deceive many people from around the world and steal their money. He also lauded the efforts of the task force assigned to the case. “The investigation teams at Dubai Police have done a great job in utilising AI-based technologies, including the Criminal Data Analysis Centre at Dubai Police, to track down the cyber fraudsters,” Al Mansouri said.

The Dubai Police said once they received information from their intelligence units about an African gang involved in cyber criminal activity, they formed an investigation team that was able to trace and arrest the suspects, which included “Hushpuppi” and “Woodberry”.

The cyber gang alleged criminal activities include creating fake accounts on social media websites with fake nicknames, hacking corporate emails to deceive clients into making money transfers to the gang’s bank accounts, targeting overseas victims by creating fake websites for well-known companies and banks in a bid to steal victims’ credit card information and then launder the stolen money.

During an analysis of the confiscated electronic devices, the Dubai Police discovered information which outlines the cybergang’s activities. The police also found what they describe as additional sensitive information that they believe was mined by the suspects to defraud individuals and companies. The information includes bank accounts and fake credit cards.  

The suspects are expected to appear in court soon, when the identity of the rest of the suspects is expected to be revealed.

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