Monday, 22 October, 2018

Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests 2 Nigerians in United States over cyber-fraud

Police arrested 74 suspects involved in an international email scam bust.                  Getty Images Police arrested 74 suspects involved in an international email scam bust. Getty Images
Steven Clarke | 13 June, 2018, 13:02

Some of the people arrested in Operation Wire Wire were Nigerian nationals living in the U.S. "It's easy to hide in a mesh of email accounts, so this is good news".

The department 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.

"To avoid becoming a victim of BEC and EAC scams, verify the authenticity of any email you receive, especially those that request you to send money through a wire transfer", Turner said.

In its statement, the Justice Department notes that these sophisticated scam often target employees "with access to company finances and businesses working with foreign suppliers and/or businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments".

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 scams sometimes target personally identifiable information or employee tax records rather than money, officials note.

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The effort, which involved local and federal law enforcement agencies, targeted scammers who trick people into transferring them money, for example by impersonating a business partner or colleague.

The US said such scams are "prevalent" and pledged to pursue perpetrators "regardless of where they are located". "The defendant sent the emails with the intent of having the recipients send or wire money to bank accounts used, accessed, or controlled by others in furtherance of the conspiracy".

BEC incurred the highest losses of any internet-based crime category in 2017, according to the most recent FBI IC3 report.

Al Pascual, senior vice president of research at Javelin Strategy & Research, calls the crackdown "a great step in the right direction".

"We will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners around the world to end these fraud schemes and protect the hard-earned assets of our citizens", Federal Bureau of Investigation director Christopher Wray said in a statement.

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