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Yahoo Boys’, next-level cybercriminals major cyber attackers in W/Africa – Report

In this part of the World, you would always come across mails trying to discuss one or two multimillion dollar transfer deals when you care to check mails in your junk or spam mails. That is the activities of relentless Yahoo Boys who claim to be writing you from one war torn country or the other and they are collectively termed Yahoo Boys as one of the two major cybercrimes hitting West Africa.

The other one according to a new report released by Trend Micro Incorporated, in collaboration with Interpol on cybercriminal activity in West Africa, is Next-Level Cybercriminals.

The report; ‘Cybercrime in West Africa: Poised for an Underground Economy,’ formed part of ongoing Cybercriminal Underground Economy Series (CUES).

The report noted that scams targeting individuals and businesses have grown exponentially since 2013.

Whereas yahoo Boys adopt less technically advanced schemes, including advanced-fee, stranded traveler and romance scams under the supervision of a ringleader, Next-Level Cybercriminals execute more sophisticated attacks, such as Business Email Compromise (BEC) and tax scams. The more complex attacks take more time and investment, but the average BEC scam results in a payout of $140,000, making it worth the extra time and effort.

According to Raimund Genes, chief technology officer for Trend Micro, “Our ongoing collaboration with INTERPOL is aimed at mitigating the risks posed by cybercriminals around the world, with this research specifically focusing on cybercrime in West Africa”.

“While there is not yet an actual underground marketplace, cybercrime is pervasive in West Africa. Both the approach to cybercrime and the manner in which threat actors communicate lead to a cybercriminal ecosystem unlike any other we’ve experienced thus far. The unique nature of the problem also presents its own set of roadblocks in bringing these criminals to justice.”

The report revealed that one constant finding throughout Trend Micro’s CUES research is that each underground marketplace culturally reflects the region in which it operates, and West Africa is no exception. Cybercriminals here openly communicate, even potentially meeting in person, sharing best practices and encouraging newcomers. This has developed a culture among threat actors that encourages scamming and supporting one another.

Noboru Nakatani, Executive Director of INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) was of the view that “This joint paper shows that criminals across the region are becoming more technically savvy, and this emerging underground market will require an even stronger law enforcement response in the future, both in terms of training for investigators and ensuring the appropriate legislation is in place.”

“In addition to building awareness of cybercrime-related issues across West Africa and beyond, the research also highlights the importance of public-private partnerships in identifying and arresting criminals, as well as educating businesses and governments about cyber threats.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had been warning Nigerians to be careful in responding to emails they can hardly identify the sender to avoid coerced into the act.