Nigerian cyber crime gangs are operating in Australia's back yard, according to an expert report. Nigerian cyber crime gangs are operating in Australia's back yard, according to an expert report. (PA)

Nigerian scammers based in Australia's backyard, call for cybercrime rethink

May 28, 2020
Nigeria-based scammers, who target millions of Australian email accounts, could be closer to home than you may think.
 
The west African nation is an established hub for cyber criminals who carry out 'advance free fraud' familiar to many victims of their fake emails.
 
But few Australians realise many of these cybercrime gangs have moved into the Asia Pacific - Australia's back yard.
 
A new report by expert Jonathan Lusthaus, 'Cybercrime in South East Asia', published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, shows many are based in Malaysia.
 
"It isn't yet clear why this is such a fertile location, but it's of growing concern, as perhaps many thousands of such offenders are running hugely profitable enterprises there," said Dr Lusthaus.
 
The report highlights how the online threat from scammers out of Nigeria has evolved in recent years to 'business email compromise'. This involves a scammer impersonating a CEO or other person to instruct an employee in the victim company to transfer funds into an account controlled by the criminals.
 
Dr Lusthaus says there are other countries in the Asia Pacific harbouring cybercriminals.
 
Vietnam, for example, hosts a local community of 'black hat' hackers involved in international credit card fraud.
Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. The country is the base for Nigerian scammers targeting Australia, says a report. (AP)
They target e-commerce sites and steal their databases of credit card details. The cybercriminals then sell the card data in virtual marketplaces or buy products online themselves and ship them back to Vietnam.
 
Dr Lusthaus says the research shows cybercrime is far from an anonymous activity.
 
He believes Australian authorities such as the AFP should be concentrating on specific local hot spots in the Asia Pacific region.
 
"While it makes sense to continue supporting international cooperation in the fight against cybercrime, those efforts need to be targeted to specific hotspots where the problem is the most acute and Australia's contributions can provide the greatest value for money."
 
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