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Logistics companies targeted in latest global cyber fraud

The UAE government's head of cybersecurity Dr Mohammed Al Kuwaiti. The organisation says it is foiling 50,000 cyber attacks a day Wam
The UAE government's head of cybersecurity Dr Mohammed Al Kuwaiti. The organisation says it is foiling 50,000 cyber attacks a day
  • ‘Classiscam’ impersonates websites
  • UAE working to curb threat
  • Over $64m stolen in three years

Logistics companies in the Middle East and Africa are being targeted by a worldwide scam that impersonates businesses’ websites in order to defraud consumers.

According to Group-IB, a global cybersecurity company based in Singapore, the fraud – known as Classiscam – has targeted 251 brands in 79 countries. This includes 15 countries across Middle East and Africa, the second most impacted region in the world.

Group-IB has been working with the UAE Cybersecurity Council to curb the threat.

The Russia-based scam-as-a-service, which uses fake classified adverts and social engineering methods to convince people to buy goods or services that don’t exist, has profited to the tune of $64.5 million in the last three years, Group-IB said.

“The UAE was no exception to this, with its emphasis on technological innovation and many large and prominent brands operating in the country,” a spokesperson for Group-IB told AGBI.

Almost 19 percent of the Classiscam resources analysed by Group-IB experts that were created between H1 2021 and H1 2023 targeted users in the Middle East and Africa.

Logistics was the most targeted industry in the region, a trend matched globally. However Classiscam has also had success in defrauding classified companies – sites that people use to create listings that advertise goods and services.

The scam surged in popularity in spring 2020 during the onset of Covid and the rise in remote working and online shopping.

“Classiscam shows no sign of slowing down and the ranks of the Classiscammers are continuing to swell,” said Sharef Hlal, head of Group-IB’s digital risk protection analytics team for the Middle East and Africa.

The automated scheme uses Telegram bots to help create ready-to-use phishing pages impersonating companies in a range of industries. 

These phishing pages are designed to steal money, payment data and in some recent cases, bank login credentials from unsuspecting internet users. The average amount lost by Classiscam victims worldwide was $353.

Hlal warned that Classiscam would likely remain one of the major global scam operations throughout the remainder of this year “due to the scheme’s full automation and low technical barrier of entry”.

Dr Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, head of cybersecurity for the UAE government, said the country is “actively remediating the impact of cyber incidents” through public private partnerships, innovation and ensuring everyone is aware of the threats associated with cyber crime.

Dr Al Kuwaiti previously revealed that the country is thwarting 50,000 cyber attacks a day, from ransomware to cyber terrorism.