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How Yahoo Boys Steal N4.8 Billion From Nigerian Banks, Companies And Others

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A team of hackers known as OPERA1ER has stolen at least $11 million from companies in Nigeria, Benin Republic, Cameroon and 11 other countries and Argentina.

A new report from Group-IB, a cybersecurity company, titled OPERA1ER: Playing God without permission, in collaboration with researchers Centre.

The company said that digital forensics analyzed by it and Orange CERT Coordination followed more than 30 successful intrusions of the gang between 2018 and 2022.

According to reporting by Punch, the company’s data showed that Ivory Coast companies were the most targeted.

The report has helped trace organizations in Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Gabon, Nige, Nigeria, Paraguay, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Togo and Argentina.

The company also said it assessed that the gang stole about $11 million. It could have been up to $30 million. The report said: “The report takes a deep dive into financially motivated attacks of the prolific French-speaking threat actor, codenamed OPERA1ER.

Despite relying solely on known ‘off-the-shelf’ tools, the gang managed to carry out more than 30 successful attacks against banks, financial services, and telecommunication companies mainly located in Africa between 2018 and 2022. OPERA1ER is confirmed to have stolen at least $11m, according to Group-IB’s estimates.

“One of OPERA1ER’s attacks involved a vast network of 400 mule accounts for fraudulent money withdrawals. Researchers from the Group-IB European Threat Intelligence Unit identified and reached out to 16 affected organizations so they could mitigate the threat and prevent further attacks by OPERA1ER.”

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The company said the report was completed in 2021 when the threat was active. Head of cyber threat research at Group-IB Europe, Rustam Mirkasymov, stated that analysis of the gang’s recent attacks revealed an interesting pattern in their ways of operation, saying the gang launches attacks mostly during weekends or public holidays.

He said:

“It correlates with the fact that they spend from 3 to 12 months from the initial access to money theft. It was established that the French-speaking hacker group could operate from Africa. The exact number of the gang members is unknown.”

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