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Coordinating efforts to better combat cybercrime focus of INTERPOL working group 1/9

by March 31, 2016 General

31 March 2016

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Coordinating regional law enforcement efforts to combat cybercrime globally was the focus of the INTERPOL working group for heads of units in the Americas.

Although increasing global access to the Internet provides greater opportunities for society, it also offers criminals a larger number of targets around the world, requiring a coordinated law enforcement response.

A key topic during the three-day (29 – 31 March) meeting was Business E-mail Compromise and its two main variants; ‘Payment Diversion Fraud’ where an e-mail allegedly from a supplier requests payment be made to an account controlled by the criminal, and ‘CEO Fraud’ where a senior executive’s e-mail is compromised and staff are directed to transfer funds to a bank account.

The need for international cooperation in combating these crimes was highlighted by a recent case where information exchange between the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the INTERPOL Digital Crime Centre (IDCC) in Singapore led to the successful recovery of USD 25 million which a Norwegian company had been duped into sending to a bank in Asia.

Staff had received an instruction allegedly coming from the CEO’s US law firm instructing them to send money to an account in Hong Kong, China. After being alerted by the FBI, the IDCC contacted the bank’s internal fraud team which froze the accounts before the money could be stolen by the criminals behind the fraud – all within just three hours.

“Sophisticated cyber scams are a growing threat that can victimize businesses and users around the world. Working with our international partners is critical to combating these crimes and bringing cybercriminals to justice,” said Assistant Director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, James Trainor.

Director of the IDCC, Sanjay Virmani said the speed at which cybercrime is committed and from any corner of the globe means a 24-hour international response is essential.

“This successful case clearly shows the results which can be achieved when information is shared via INTERPOL, and when law enforcement connects with the private sector,” said Mr Virmani.

“Cybercriminals do not respect borders and certainly have no consideration for their victims, which is why a coordinated international response by law enforcement is key in tackling these crimes,” said Mr Virmani.

“INTERPOL is working to develop our member countries’ capabilities to tackle cybercrime, to reduce the number of loopholes which can be exploited and to better protect members of the public, business and governments from these threats,” he added.

In this regard, the working group will conduct a needs assessment exercise for the Cybercrime Capacity Building Programme in Latin America and the Caribbean. Funded by the Government of Canada, the initiative will deliver specialized training, technical equipment and regional operations to countries across the region.

A previous outcome of the working group was the INTERPOL-coordinated Operation Sin Fronteras in December 2015. Targeting paedophile networks using online forums to share child sexual abuse material, some 200 raids were carried out in nearly 50 cities across the Americas, resulting in the arrest of 60 offenders across 15 countries and the rescue of four victims.

Some 67 participants from 30 countries, 10 private sector companies and the Organization of American States took part in the working group meeting, hosted by the Costa Rican national police.