Federal authorities arrest 74 people in wire transfer scam

Lester Mason
June 13, 2018

The suspects were arrested following their coordinated effort to disrupt business email compromise schemes created to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals.

The arrests were the culmination of "Operation Wire Wire", a six-month campaign that involved the DOJ, the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Treasury, and the US Postal Inspection Service.

The United States" Federal Bureau of Investigation, Monday, said it had arrested 74 "email scammers', 29 of them Nigerians in a global operation.

"In addition to the arrests, it resulted in the seizure of almost $2.4 million, and the recovery of approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers", the bureau said.

Hackers execute BEC scams by impersonating employees or business executives after gaining access to their email accounts.

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. The scammers may also target personally identifiable information or employee tax records in addition to money.

The US said such scams are "prevalent" and pledged to pursue perpetrators "regardless of where they are located".

Foreign citizens perpetrate many of these schemes, which originated in Nigeria but have spread throughout the world.

Authorities also went after "money mules" - "witting or unwitting accomplices" who receive the money from the victims and transfer it as directed by the fraudsters.

It culminated in more than two weeks of intensified law enforcement activity resulting in 73 arrests in the US and overseas, primarily in Nigeria, and the recovery or seizure of about $6 million. "When this amount of money can be stolen with little risk of getting caught, there will always be people willing to commit fraud". If you believe you may have been a target, you can also file a complaint with the IC3.

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.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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