Arrests in Business Email Compromise Takedown

US authorities arrest 29 Nigerians others for email scams

The US has arrested 74 people including almost 30 in Nigeria, as part of an effort to combat email scam artists.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has arrested two Nigerians for allegedly defrauding businesses and USA citizens of several millions of dollars.

BEC schemes often target employees in the finance department of organizations since they deal in company transactions and make wire transfers.

The US department also said the same criminal organisations that perpetrate BEC - cyber-enabled financial fraud - also exploit individual victims, often real estate purchasers, the elderly, and others. Google and Facebook fell victim to a $100 million email scam thanks to an elaborate scheme from a suspect in Lithuania.

Operation WireWire saw the Federal Bureau of Investigation work with police in Canada, Mauritius, Indonesia, Poland and Malaysia to arrest 74 suspects, including 42 in the US.

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I suspect these arrests will force BEC to shift further overseas, and if so, the cooperation across jurisdictions will be a necessary example to follow if law enforcement and banks wants to keep up the pressure.

Today's statement also said that federal authorities seized almost $2.4 million and disrupted and recovered approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers.

The FBI said 42 suspects were nabbed in the USA, 29 in Nigeria, and three others in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland.

"Operation Wire Wire", a coordinated effort by Interpol, national police forces, and USA agencies including the FBI, DoJ, Homeland Security, Treasury Department, Secret Service, and the Postal Inspection Service, was conducted over a six-month period. The two are charged with laundering about $665,000, according to court records. One victim actually lost at least $440,000 from the email fraud. "These are malicious and morally repugnant crimes".

The Department of Justice did not immediately provide a full list of those arrested, or the criminal complaints, but it said that, "since the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) began formally keeping track of BEC and its variant, email account compromise (EAC), there has been a loss of over $3.7 billion reported to the IC3".

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