QLD, Nigeria partner with industry to combat million dollar cybercrime

Lovesick Queenslanders still falling prey to Nigerian scammers.

Hay believes education will work, but the delivery of the message must be sustained.

"The most effective manner of that is through the media," he said. "When you look at how much money is leaving Australia it is unbelievable. Since last year the number of transactions are up by about 15 percent and certainly the money value we were averaging about half a million -- it is beyond that now. That's per month from Queensland to Nigeria."

Visiting Australia to speak at the AusCERT conference and partnership announcement was Nigerian EFCC Police officer Abdulkarim Chukkol.

"If you don't know where Nigeria is you may have received an e-mail from the country once," he said. "Contrary to popular belief Nigeria has a high literacy rate and most of the youth know how to use a computer. In the mid-90s the Internet came to the multinationals and over the years the ISPs were given licences and people are becoming aware of the Internet and it became easier to use."

With the proliferation of ISPs and cyber cafes, advance fee fraud (AFF) began to surface and is performed over the Internet instead of regular mail and faxes. Before the Internet came to Nigeria people were into fake lotteries, crude oil scams, and other contract-based scams giving the whole country a bad reputation.

"People don't go for this anymore because it takes a long time and the person may lose interest," he said. "When the Internet came it allowed them to create one letter and send it to millions of people. From there it has moved to phishing, romance scams, e-commerce scams, charity scams. Fake romance scams with pictures of models is now the most popular."

Chukkol said Nigeria does not yet have a cyber crime law but the bill is waiting to pass a second reading in the parliament.

"Several card fraud cases are connected to foreign hackers sites and fraudulent forums," he said. "There are hacker sites where you go in and trade this information. This was demonstrated to us and it's quite shocking."

Who are the perpetrators? Most of the people are between 18 to 30 years old and are active on the Internet. They live in university towers, especially in Lagos, and if they are not doing it they have friends that are doing it.

"From our experience most of the people that commit these crimes use a cyber cafe because it's quite cheap at about one dollar an hour," Chukkol said.

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Rodney Gedda

Techworld Australia
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