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Alleged Leader of Nigerian Email Scamming Ring Arrested

FILE - Interpol employees work in the control room of the Infra-Red operation in Lyon, central France. A Nigerian national identified only as Mike, an alleged leader of an email scamming network, was arrested in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, in June, 2016.

Authorities in Nigeria have arrested the alleged leader of an email scamming network that conned people out of tens of millions of dollars.

Police organization INTERPOL and Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said Monday that the man, a 40-year-old Nigerian national identified only as "Mike," was arrested in a joint operation in Port Harcourt in June.

The organizations say "Mike" headed a criminal network of at least 40 people across Nigeria, South Africa and Malaysia that carried out the scams, and also had money laundering contacts in China, Europe and the United States who provided bank accounts for the cash flow.

The network allegedly compromised the email accounts of small and medium-sized companies in at least eight countries and sent messages to the companies' employees and business associates, asking them to transfer money.

The scams netted more than $60 million from hundreds of victims. In one case, a target was tricked into paying $15.4 million.

The suspect and another person arrested, identified only as a 38-year-old, face charges of hacking, conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretenses. Both are currently free on bail as the investigation continues.