Federal Bureau of Investigation says 74 arrested in global sweep targeting e-mail compromise schemes

Elias Hubbard
June 13, 2018

Police arrested 74 suspects involved in an worldwide email scam bust.

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

Federal authorities allege the individuals impersonated employees or business executives after gaining access to their email accounts, better known as a Business Email Compromise (BEC) scheme.

Many of these cases involved worldwide criminal organizations which defrauded not only small-to-large sized businesses but also individuals including real estate purchasers and the elderly. Google and Facebook fell victim to a $100 million email scam thanks to an elaborate scheme from a suspect in Lithuania.

Law enforcement also seized almost $2.4 million as part of the operation, and recovered approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers by disrupting the BEC schemes, the DOJ said.

In a statement published on the agency's website, it said, the operation was a coordinated effort by the federal authorities including the Department of Justice and the FBI aimed at intercepting illegal wire transfers from businesses and individuals across the globe.

Some of the people arrested in Operation Wire Wire were Nigerian nationals living in the U.S.

It said Operation Wire Wire, a coordinated law enforcement effort by the US Department of Justice, US Department of Homeland Security, US Department of the Treasury and the US Postal Inspection Service, was conducted over a six month period, culminating in over two weeks of intensified law enforcement activity. Additionally, a Nigerian involved in romance fraud who has caused significant losses to individuals in Nebraska and elsewhere has been arrested in Poland by the Polish Police Central Bureau of Investigation. The two are charged with laundering about $665,000, according to court records.

"Fraudsters can rob people of their life's savings in a matter of minutes", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

Email fraud is a booming business for cybercriminals, with the Internet Crime Complaint Center estimating there's been more than $3.7 billion lost because of such scams. "These are malicious and morally repugnant crimes".

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