Nigeria, software firms look to halt Internet crime

ABUJA Fri Oct 23, 2009 6:49am EDT

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ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's anti-corruption police is working with top computer software companies to halt thousands of fraudulent emails in a crackdown on internet crime in Africa's most populous country, an agency spokesman said.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said on Thursday its new project "Eagle Claw," expected to become fully operational within six months, aimed to improve Nigeria's tarnished image as one of the world's top countries for internet crime.

"The EFCC is fine tuning security modalities with Microsoft

and upon full deployment, the capacity to take down fraudulent emails will increase to 5,000 monthly," said Farida Waziri, the agency's chairwoman, in a statement.

The government said it would also be working with Yahoo and Google to monitor online traffic to block millions of email spam coming from Nigeria.

"The technology is not yet fully developed, but operatives will be working on 24 hours, 7 days a week to detect key words found in fraudulent emails. Only clean email can go out," said EFCC spokesman Femi Babafemi.

The agency said it has already shut down 800 scam websites and arrested 18 people in the last three months. It will have at least 100 EFCC officials dedicated to the project.

The initiative is the latest effort by the government to shrug off its image as an epicenter of corruption, epitomized by "419" email fraudsters named after the article in Nigeria's penal code that deals with advance fee fraud.

The government last month banned the showing of blockbuster sci-fi movie "District 9," which caricatures Nigerians as gangsters and cannibals, and demanded an apology from Sony after a Playstation advert implied they are fraudsters.

President Umaru Yar'Adua has also launched a rebranding campaign with the slogan: "Nigeria: Good People, Great Nation," and started a nationwide initiative to promote "Made In Nigeria" products over foreign imports.

But Nigerians, most of whom live on less than $2 a day, say the government needs to do more to address the everyday problems of the oil-rich, but impoverished country.

(Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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