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Group-IB Uncovers Ongoing, Multi-Stage Scam Targeting the Middle East and Africa

Egypt among list of top five nations targeted, says Group-IB analysts at this month’s Digital Risk Summit 2021

Group-IB Uncovers Ongoing, Multi-Stage Scam Targeting the Middle East and Africa

Feel like you might be getting scammed? You probably are, because according to Group-IB, Egypt is a hotspot for scamming in various industries!

Group-IB, a global threat hunting and adversary-centric cyber intelligence company specializing in investigating and preventing hi-tech cybercrimes, recently revealed a large-scale, ongoing scam targeting the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.

Scammers leveraged nearly 140 well-known brands from 16 countries across the region in fraudulent schemes designed to steal user personal and payment data — and at least eight of the brands exploited in this multi-stage scam were affiliated with Egypt.

The findings, uncovered using Group IB’s AI-driven digital risk identification and mitigation platform Digital Risk Protection, were released during the company’s Digital Risk Summit 2021, held online last week. Participants included the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC), global market research and advisory firm Forrester, and independent website watchdog service Scamadviser.

During the event, Group-IB analysts also revealed Egypt to be one of the top five countries targeted by the rolling multi-stage scam.

How Not to Get Scammed in Egypt, according to Group-IB

As part of the scam, fake web pages are created by scammers. A typical victim receives a link to these via social media channels or messenger services or sees them advertised on search engines. The link invites the victim to participate in a prize draw, or a promotional offer, or a survey associated with a well-known brand or celebrity. The landing page contains an online form designed to extract the victim’s key personal details, and once filled in, the victim is declared a winner and instructed to share the link with their contacts. This expands the scam surface while the victim is redirected to other scam resources — new giveaways, phishing websites, or websites that infect devices with malware. The total monthly audience of web resources used as a final stage of this scam totaled almost 500,000.

The majority of brands exploited through this multi-stage scam, 34.8%, fell under the umbrella of the telecommunications industry, 10.4% fell under public services, and 9.6% fell under retail. Other affected industries include entertainment, food and beverage, automotive, electronics, oil-and-gas, and banking and insurance. In addition, Group-IB analysts also detected over 4,300 scam web pages registered using legitimate blog-publishing services this year alone, 160 of which were scam pages exploiting Egyptian brands.

How Not to Get Scammed in Egypt, according to Group-IB

The pandemic sent businesses worldwide — today, 40% of all sales are conducted through social media. This has translated into unprecedented growth, but it has also multiplied the threat surface. In total, fraud accounts for 73% of all online attacks: 56% are scams, which lure victims into voluntarily revealing sensitive data, and 17% are phishing attacks, which result in the theft of bank card details.

“It’s not enough for organizations to employ a simple monitoring approach and blocking individual links, not with online fraud escalating at its current rate. Instead, prevention tools should capably and efficiently detect the entire infrastructure mounted by a scammer and identify each element involved. This is where a scam actor-centric approach, such as the one adopted by Group-IB, comes in — it automates the monitoring process and renders it more sophisticated and more scalable,” noted Ashraf Koheil, MEA Director of Business Development, Group-IB.

Group-IB, which has recently opened the doors on its first Threat Intelligence & Research Center in the MEA region, also added that scam and phishing incidents detected by the company in the Middle East grew 27.5% in the 2020 year before. It also presented analysis from several other fraudulent schemes discovered using its patented scammer tracking technology, Scam Intelligence. In under a year, the system has saved nearly USD 443 million in potential damages for companies in Asia-Pacific, Russia, Europe, and the Middle East.

About Group-IB

Group-IB is a Singapore-based provider of solutions aimed at the detection and prevention of cyberattacks and online fraud. The company also specializes in high-profile cyber investigations and digital risk protection. Group-IB’s Threat Intelligence & Attribution system has been named one of the best in a class by Gartner, Forrester, and IDC, while its Threat Hunting Framework has been recognized as one of the leaders in Network Detection and Response by the leading European analyst agency KuppingerCole Analysts AG.

Gartner identified Group-IB as a Representative Vendor in Online Fraud Detection for its Fraud Hunting Platform. In addition, Group-IB was recognized as a Representative Vendor in Gartner’s Market Guide for Digital Forensics and Incident Response Services.

Group-IB was granted an Innovation Excellence award for its Digital Risk Protection (DRP), an Al-driven platform for identifying and mitigating digital risks and counteracting brand impersonation attacks with its patented technologies at its core.

Group-IB’s technological leadership is built on the company’s 18 years of hands-on experience in cybercrime investigations worldwide and 65 000 hours of cybersecurity incident response accumulated in one of the biggest forensic laboratories and around-the-clock center providing a rapid response to cyber incidents—CERT-GIB.  Group-IB is a partner of INTERPOL and Europol and has been recommended by the OSCE as a cybersecurity solutions provider.

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Written by El-Shai

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