Dubai Police arrested two ringleaders of a multi-million dollar cybercrime operation, along with ten of their operatives in a special operation dubbed ‘Fox Hunt 2’.
Raymond Igbalode Abbas, also known as ‘Hushpuppi’, and Olalekan Jacob Ponle aka ‘Woodberry’, along with ten African cybercriminals were arrested for offences that were committed outside the UAE.
Dubai Police said the crimes includes 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 said 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 in the same time,” Al Mansouri said.
Speaking about the operation’s details, Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jallaf, Director of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Dubai Police, said that upon receiving the security intel about an African gang involved in money-laundering and cyber fraud, an investigation team was formed to track down the suspects and arrest them over their illegal activities which targeted bank accounts and credit cards of individuals and companies overseas.
Social media boasts
“After verifying available information, the team has started to track the gang including ‘Hushpuppi’, who celebrated his wealth via social media platform, under a businessman façade, in an attempt to lure victims from all over the world,” Al Jallaf said.
Al Jallaf said the anti-cybercrime task force was able to track the gang members and detect their criminal activities, including creating fake accounts on social media website with fake nicknames, hacking corporate emails to deceive clients into making money transfers to the gang’s bank accounts.
“The suspects also targeted victims overseas 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,” Al Jallaf continued.
The director of Dubai CID said the raid resulted in confiscating incriminating documents of a planned fraud on a global scale worth AED 1.6 billion ($ 435 million).
“The team also seized more than AED 150 million ($40.9 million) in cash, 13 luxury cars with an estimated value of AED 25 million ($6.8 million) obtained from fraud crimes, and confiscated 21 computer devices, 47 smartphones, 15 memory sticks, five hard disks containing 119,580 fraud files as well as addresses of 1,926,400 victims”, he said.
After conducting further investigations and analysing confiscated electronic devices, Dubai Police investigators uncovered sensitive information mined by the suspects on individuals and companies overseas including bank accounts and fake credit cards as well as documents and files condemning the gangs’ illegal activities.
The arrests mark the second time this year that Dubai Police nabbed cyber criminals operating in the emirate. Under the operation name ‘Fox Hunt 1’, Dubai Police arrested an African gang of nine fraudsters last February after they had run 81 fake business across 18 countries around the world.
The operation revealed a hidden online fraud network that deceived victims into transferring money in return of job opportunities. The gang used multiple bank accounts to make money transfers and deposits totalling more than AED 32 million ($8.7 million). It also prevented the gang from abusing 800,000 email addresses and foiled their bid to steal 4 billion dirhams ($1.08 billion).
Lt General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, the commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, said the arrest of ‘Hushpuppi’, ‘Woodberry’ and ten gang members involved in money laundry and cyber fraud activities, is another achievement added to the proud record of Dubai police in ensuring the emirate’s security and safety as well as preserving people’s money and property.
“Similar to operation ‘Fox Hunt 1’ that took down an African gang of nine online scammers last February, Op ‘Fox Hunt 2’ is another painful hit to cybercriminals who try to mess with the world’s security and safety,” he said.
Al Marri further reaffirmed the force’s commitment to foiling cyber fraud and online scams using the latest technology. “As criminals constantly change their criminal methods, Dubai Police work tirelessly to qualify elites of officers and employees specialised in facilitating the latest technologies to tackle emerging and transnational organised crime,” he said.
The commander-in-chief of Dubai Police also praised the tremendous efforts made by the force’s teams who arrested the suspects and mastered the use of modern technologies.
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