Dubai Police seizes N16bn, $6.8m luxury items, others from Hushpuppi, Woodbery

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In a special operation, the Dubai Police have arrested 12 cybercriminals, including the one nicknamed as Hushpuppi and another, Woodberry, and foiled a fraud plan of the gang worth Dh1.6 billion.

The operation titled Fox Hunt 2 enabled the arrest of the suspects for crimes committed outside the UAE, including money laundering, cyber fraud, hacking, impersonation, scamming individuals, banking fraud and identity theft.

Lt-General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of the Dubai Police, said the arrest of the suspects is another achievement for the police in ensuring the emirate’s security and safety.

“Similar to operation ‘Fox Hunt 1’ that took down an African gang of nine online scammers last February, ‘Fox Hunt 2′ is another effective action against cybercriminals who try to mess with the world’s security and safety,” he said.

According to Major-General Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri, assistant commander-in-chief for Criminal Investigation, the suspects were caught in a series of synchronised raids by six SWAT teams.

“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.

Al Mansouri said the operation foiled the gang’s bid to deceive many people from around the world and steal their money. He also lauded the efforts of the task force assigned to the case.

“The investigation teams have done a great job in utilising AI-based technologies, including the Criminal Data Analysis Centre, to track down the cyber fraudsters,” Al Mansouri said.

Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jallaf, director of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), said that upon receiving the security intel about an African gang involved in money-laundering and cyber fraud, an investigation team was formed.

“After verifying available information, the team started to track the gang including “Hushpuppi”, who celebrated his wealth via social media platform, under the disguise of a businessman, 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 and hacking corporate emails to trick 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.

He said the raid resulted in confiscating incriminating documents of a planned fraud on a global scale worth Dh1.6 billion ($435 million).

“The team also seized more than Dh150 million in cash, 13 luxury cars with an estimated value of Dh25 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 victims,” he said.

After conducting further investigations and analysing confiscated electronic devices, the investigators uncovered sensitive information on individuals and companies overseas including bank accounts and fake credit cards as well as documents and files condemning the gangs’ illegal activities.

Hushpuppi’s arrest was first rumoured on Nigerian social media about two weeks ago. Media reports said American officials were pushing for his extradition to the United States because the majority of those he defrauded are American citizens.

Nigeria’s anti-graft agency also said Hushpuppi, “Nigerian most-wanted hacker,” is being investigated for cybercrimes. The agency said it is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in tracing victims of Hushpuppi’s alleged fraudulent transactions.