Online Crimes – Nigerian Confraternities Emerge As Business E-Mail Compromise Threat



Online Crimes – Nigerian Confraternities Emerge As Business E-Mail Compromise Threat

16/5/2018/Crowdstrike Global Intelligence Team

Business email compromise (BEC) is a form of fraud by which a team of cybercriminals convince victims to wire large amounts of funds or send valuable data to criminally controlled accounts; it is facilitated by the victim’s belief that they are actually being asked or instructed to do so by a trusted party.

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), BEC occurs when “a criminal compromises legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds”.

In 2016, the IC3 received 12,005 BEC complaints amounting to losses of more than $360 million USD.

There have been multiple open-source reports describing how money stolen through BEC fraud is directed to bank accounts in China, particularly Hong Kong. The IC3 has tracked fraudulent bank transfers to 72 countries and it has determined that the majority go to banks in China and Hong Kong.

As eCrime has evolved over the past decade and become a global issue costing companies and individuals billions of dollars, prolific Nigerian cybercriminals have evolved, too.

They have moved to BEC scams, which are much more sophisticated than advanced-fee fraud (also called 419 fraud).

Industry reporting shows that BEC has been perpetrated by Nigerian groups or individuals and that the tools are readily available. (Trend Micro, “Cybercrime in West Africa”, 2017, https://documents.trendmicro[.]com/assets/wp/wp-cybercrime-in-westafrica. Pdf)

Additional analysis by CrowdStrike Intelligence shows that larger and more sinister Nigerian criminal groups are involved in BEC, specifically Nigerian Confraternities.

The Neo Black Movement (NBM) was founded in 1977 at the University of Benin, Nigeria. NBM claims that it is an officially registered organization in Nigeria, however it is widely considered to be one and the same as the Black Axe confraternity, and both have been banned by law. Since its foundation, Black Axe has developed into a formidable criminal organization and has developed a hierarchical, inter-state organization while at the same time retaining cult-like tendencies.

Black Axe gangs are involved in a multitude of organized crime ventures such as running prostitution rings, human trafficking, narcotics trafficking, grand theft, money laundering, and email fraud/cybercrime. These activities primarily take place in Nigeria, and they also are conducted by Black Axe members (known as Axemen) in Europe and North America.

Black Axe maintains a hierarchical command structure at the national level, and it also operates Black Axe “Zones” (also pyramidal in structure) in foreign locations. Arrests of criminals in Canada in 2015 revealed that the Black Axe zone for Canada is heavily involved in wire fraud, money laundering, romance scams, and BEC.

U.S. law enforcement arrested several Nigerian criminals on BEC fraud over the past few years, and Canadian and Italian law enforcement agencies have had limited success confronting and dealing with the Black Axe zones in their respective countries. Yet the magnitude of this criminal threat has only recently begun to be understood. As such, the threat posed by Black Axe and similar groups will remain high for the foreseeable future, and BEC will remain an effective eCrime technique in the near to midterm.


Key Points

  •  Business email compromise (BEC) is a form of fraud where criminals compromise legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds.
  • Over the past 12 months, CrowdStrike has observed three different types of BEC scams: wire transfer attemptspayroll fraud, and compromises that have led to follow-on spam campaigns. In many BEC cases, CrowdStrike has observed Office 365 (or Google suites) being compromised because two-factor authentication (2FA) was not enabled.
  • CrowdStrike has also observed eCrime campaigns using the Netwire remote access tool (RAT) that are tied to Nigerian BEC fraud and that have affected companies in the energy, travel, financial, and hospitality sectors.
  • In many cases, money stolen through BEC fraud is directed to bank accounts in China, particularly Hong Kong.
  •    Nigerian confraternities, most notably Black Axe, have developed into formidable criminal organizations that include cyber components.
  •  The Black Axe confraternity maintains a pyramidal command structure at the national level, and also operates Black Axe “Zones” that conduct wire fraud in foreign locations.
  • In mid-2015, police in Toronto, Canada arrested three Nigerian criminals on fraud charges for stealing more than $600,000 USD from a Canadian widow through a romance scam. Police also charged one with the crime “money laundering for criminal organization” because they identified him as the bookkeeper for Black Axe’s Canada zone.
  • Although the perpetration of Nigerian 419 scams is not as advanced technically as the activity conducted by Russian actors who develop and manage sophistication banking Trojans, Nigerian BEC scams are just as advanced given their global scale, the amount of money involved, and the advanced money laundering techniques that include the use of banks in China.
  • As such, the threat posed by Black Axe and similar groups will remain high for the foreseeable future, and BEC will remain an effective eCrime technique in the near to mid-term.


Report Conclusion

Business email compromise (BEC) has become a massive eCrime challenge; it is essentially a global problem that affects all geographical regions and involves actors conducting fraud on multiple continents. The FBI has estimated that this fraud has resulted in billions of dollars stolen from large and small businesses alike, and CrowdStrike has observed cases were singe BEC cases have resulted in losses in the seven figures.

Many descriptions and advisories or press releases on BEC describe it in relatively simple terms, and the basic construct is simple in nature, which makes the success of the scam more impressive. However, the different variations of BEC that have been crafted show that in its different forms, it is actually a complex series of movements and events that require a multifunctional criminal team. When BEC scams are combined or conducted in conjunction with romance scams, money mule recruitments, and complex money-laundering operations, they present an enormous challenge to law enforcement, businesses, cyber security firms, and even individuals.

These scams should not be thought of separately, but rather as crimes that support one another, and as such they should be considered an advanced form of eCrime. Although the perpetration of Nigerian 419 scams and the use of keyloggers are not as advanced technically as the sophisticated banking Trojans developed and managed by Russian actors, the argument can be made that Nigerian BEC scams are just as advanced given their global scale, the amount of money involved, and the advanced money laundering

techniques that include the use of banks in China.

The arrests of Black Axe personnel in Toronto shed light on a criminal gang that is ruthless, while at the same time extremely organized and dedicated to conducting wire fraud, romance scams, money laundering, and BEC. The emergence this confraternity as a global scamming menace and advanced eCrime threat is alarming.

While the online security of these actors is not complete, they take greater security measures than “standard” Nigerian criminals. Furthermore, it has been difficult for law enforcement in countries outside Nigeria to gain an understanding of how Black Axe zones are structured and how they operate. These factors, combined with persistence and tenacity, have allowed fraud conducted by Black Axe and other Nigerian criminals to flourish.

U.S. law enforcement has arrested several Nigerian criminals on BEC fraud over the past few years, and Canadian and Italian law enforcement agencies have had limited success confronting and dealing the Black Axe zones in their respective countries. Yet the magnitude of this criminal threat has only recently begun to be understood. As such, the threat posed by Black Axe and similar groups will remain high for the foreseeable future, and BEC will remain an effective eCrime technique in the near to mid-term.


You can download a copy of the full report in PDF form: PDF Download

Italian Cops Try To Stop A Sex Trafficking Gang Called Black Axe



Italian Cops Try To Stop A Sex Trafficking Gang Called Black Axe

It’s a frigid spring day in the outskirts of Catania, Sicily, in Italy. On a narrow highway winding through a landscape of light industry and slumbering vineyards, trucks and Lycra-bound cyclists whiz past a dozen or so sex workers waiting for clients on the side of the road.

Many of the women are from Nigeria. One pair, dressed in matching short, curly wigs, red turtlenecks and fishnets, sit on plastic chairs, listening to a tinny rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” on a cell phone. Another woman stands alone, hovering close to a fire she’s made to keep warm.

There’s trash everywhere — flattened water bottles, discarded clothes and mangled plastic bags — marking the long, empty hours these women, and women before them, have counted on this desolate stretch of road.

So when two Italian social workers approach for a chat, most of the women welcome the company. The Italians, who work for a nongovernmental group called Associazione Penelope in Catania, come here regularly to hand out their organization’s phone number and tell the sex workers where they can see a free doctor, talk to a lawyer or go for Italian lessons.

One woman, wearing a bright pink wig, is fed up with this kind of advice.

“We don’t need school. We need documents, and we need work,” she says in exasperation. “We know that this work isn’t good. We know that. But we just need work.”

Nigerian women have worked as sex workers in Italy since the late 1980s. They migrated north on promises of good jobs in factories and farms but ended up on the streets. In recent years there has been a dramatic rise in the number of women that authorities fear are being trafficked into Italy for sex work, mostly from Nigeria. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates 80 percent of the Nigerian women arriving in Italy — which spiked from 1,454 in 2014 to 11,009 in 2016 — are potential trafficking victims, and more and more are minors.

To identify trafficking victims, IOM teams try to speak with arriving migrants at ports in Italy and listen for “indicators” that might suggest a woman has been trafficked. Where she is from, her age and her traveling companions can often be signs of trafficking.

After interviewing several trafficking victims in Italy and Nigeria, I learned that many of the women’s stories start in the same place: Edo State in southern Nigeria, not far from the country’s oil-rich delta, where a friend of the family offers them a good job in Europe. They are often taken to a traditional “voodoo” or “juju” priest before leaving, who makes them swear to remain loyal to the person helping them leave the country. They leave Nigeria by bus and travel in a small group through the desert of Niger and into Libya.

For some women, the exploitation starts there, where they are hidden in compounds of African migrants and forced into sex work under threat of violence before being packed into a small boat to cross the Mediterranean. For others, it isn’t until they reach Italy and contact the person who’s supposed to help them find work. Then they learn they “owe” tens of thousands of euros for the journey and will have to work as sex workers to pay it off.

IOM and groups like Associazione Penelope have been working in Italy to identify and help trafficking victims, but when hundreds of migrants arrive on the same boat, it can be difficult to screen everyone in a short window of time.

“We cannot reach everybody,” Carlotta Santarossa, a project manager with IOM, said in Rome last year. “The numbers are too high. It’s really a challenge.”

Once the women leave Italy’s migrant arrival centers and are locked into the underground criminal networks, it is even harder to extract them.

Now Italian prosecutors and police who have spent years battling Italian organized crime are going after the Nigerian gangs in Italy that have been driving this growing sex trade.

These groups, who have roots in Nigeria, expanded in Italy as the number of migrants started increasing, says Cesare Sirignano, a magistrate at the National Anti-Mafia Directorate in Rome. Nigerian criminal networks have as many as 1,500 members across the country, he says, and in some locations, they even pay a cut to the Italian mafia to allow them to do business on their turf.

“The Nigerian organizations have settled in places where [Italian] mafia groups don’t have complete control,” Sirignano says. “As long as they don’t compete, the presence of the Nigerian gangs isn’t a problem for the Italian mafia groups.”

That’s what has happened in Palermo, the storied Sicilian capital on the island’s northern coast, where tourists flock to see ancient, winding streets and Arab-influenced architecture and taste the famous chickpea fritters.

In the early 1990s, Palermo was one of the most notorious mafia hubs in Italy, with a bloody war waging between police and the Cosa Nostra. After a crackdown on the organization’s leadership, the local government managed to wrest control of the city from the group, weakening the infamous mob.

And some of the same authorities who have been part of the fight against the Cosa Nostra face a new foe: a Nigerian criminal gang called Black Axe that authorities say is involved in the sex trafficking business.

Cosa Nostra’s weakened position in Palermo has created an opening for Black Axe, which has been cooperating with the group by paying them a percentage of its earnings — known as a “pizzo” — to run its drug and prostitution businesses.

Former Palermo police officer Carmine Mosca said Black Axe had become “quite powerful,” particularly in the ancient neighborhood of Ballarò that has been a long-time mafia stronghold.

“We have shut down several houses … most of them rundown, some of them entire old buildings in bad shape in Ballarò … where these girls would be forced into prostitution,” Mosca says. He said up to ten women were being held in each of the houses, including underage girls.

Italy’s long history with the mafia has made some cities more susceptible to organized crime, helping Black Axe and other foreign groups establish themselves, explains Sirignano in Rome.

But it has also given the authorities tools to fight the newcomers. In 2016, Palermo authorities recognized Black Axe as a mafia group, says prosecutor Calogero Ferrara, allowing his office to use an anti-mafia law that makes just associating with a criminal organization a crime.

In 2016, between 15 and 18 members of Black Axe were arrested, on charges including mafia conspiracy, drug trafficking, exploitation of prostitution and violent crimes, Ferrara says.

This year, the number of Nigerians arriving in Italy has decreased dramatically, due in part to the fact that the Libyan coast guard has turned back a third of all migrants trying to depart from its coast. Migrant arrivals to Italy are down by 76 percent in 2018, compared to this time last year.

Some women have already found a way off the streets in Italy. In Palermo, a group of Nigerian women have set up Donne di Benin City, an organization that tries to help women forced into sex work. Osas Egbon, one of the founders, knows that women need another way to make money to be able to leave sex work behind. On a small farm outside the city, Egbon and her colleagues grow vegetables that women can sell in the markets as an alternative income.

“We cannot go to the street and tell them to stop the street work. They will be at home and have nothing to do,” Egbon says.

But many women remain stuck in the trade. On the highway outside Catania, the Italian social workers finish up for the day and head back to the car, where they write down notes in a log book: which women were on the road that day, and whether they said they’d come in to their offices in the city.

I ask if they thought the woman in the pink wig would come in.

Chiara Lo Cicero, a 26-year-old cultural mediator who has been working at the NGO for three years, doesn’t answer right away. “Yes,” she says, eventually. “Maybe.”

As we’re talking, a small car pulls up to the women, and they jump out of their chairs to try to make a deal.

This report was funded by a grant from the International Reporting Project. Flaminia Giambalvo and Tullio Filippone contributed reporting.

Krista Mahr is a journalist based in Johannesburg, where she has written for The GuardianThe Washington PostNewsweek and Associated Press. She previously lived in New Delhi where she covered South Asia for Reuters and Time. Contact her on Twitter @kristamahr.

Davido Implicated in Cult Killings



DAVIDO IMPLICATED IN CULT KILLINGS IN SOUTH AFRICA… as two leaders of rival groups were killed in 1 month, death threat issued on him


Multiple platinum artist and super popular musician David Adeleke aka Davido might have found himself in the middle of another huge scandal because of his rumoured connection with a top cult kingpin who was brutally murdered in recent clashes between rival cult groups in South Africa.
The South African police are said to have issued a statement saying their investigations revealed Davido might have some connection to one of the groups in the spate of cult clashes in South Africa which has seen the leaders of two rival gangs lose their lives in the past month.
Findings by The Lagos Times revealed that the deceased cult lord was felled by a gang of 8 from a rival group. He belonged to the dreaded Neo Black Movement of Africa Worldwide, more commonly known as Black Axe Confraternity.
Na Romeo, as he was popularly called, was their Chief Butcher in South Africa, the man in charge of making unwanted people disappear and he allegedly maintained a close friendship with Davido. There were reports he took a contract from the OBO crooner to discipline some people for him last year. And when Romeo was arrested for possession of guns it was said that Davido paid some money to get him released.
It is no longer news that the deadliest cult groups in Nigeria have exported their brand of thuggery and established outposts in other countries especially South Africa. Two of them, the Black Axe and the Eiye Confraternity, have been fighting each other for a very long time. Those who killed Na Romeo are believed to be Eiye boys exacting revenge for numerous losses they’d suffered at the hands of the Black Axe’s chief butcher.
Now that the SA police have waded into the matter Davido might soon find himself in hot soup on account of his relationship with the felled cult kingpin. Recent pictures of Na Romeo in Axe regalia posing with Davido are already all over the net. The police have already said he might be invited to answer questions in connection with two of their investigations.
Meanwhile, underground checks revealed that some irate members of Eiye and the Vikings Confraternity aka Aro Baggers are not happy with Davido over his alleged use of the Black Axe to eliminate their guys. They have vowed to deal with him should he set foot in South Africa again.

NBM Social Networking

The supposed newly found “legitimacy” and “lawfulness” of the group ‘Neo Black Movement of Africa’ has caused a recent upsurge in online social networking groups dedicated to the cult and it’s members.

Whereas in previous years the movement would move to shut such groups down and silence them quickly to avoid widespread incrimination of their activities… Now such rules banning these groups seem to have been lifted and they are starting to flourish again.

So what do the NBM do through these social networks?

Mostly organised fraud and murder it seems (still).

The Facebook group ‘AXEMEN ONLY’ ( are currently advertising the service of “cashing out” stolen I-Tunes and Steam Gift Vouchers.



Answers on a postcard as to what this recent video is about!
Uneducated guess here: it’s a video purporting to be a colossal sum of cash from the Red Cross and to be used as evidence to any victim of 419 fraud who questions whether their non-existent winnings really exist.
IMGINT suggests the video originates 2011 but is still been used.

But it’s not all about fraud and stealing in their facebook groups.

check out: NBM Neo Black Movement Africa. NGOs Non Movernmental Org.

NBM a movement that doesn’t move… and is mental.

Our glorious NGO facebook page here reporting the death of a member in South Africa. Gunned down by unknown assailants. As of course would be customary the organisation are leaving no stone unturned to find the killer and kill him too.



Which was done very shortly after….




Can read about it here:

Tit for tat. The NBM way.

Meanwhile in Europe.

Convention in Austria of the glorious NGO the NBM