Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests 74 in US, Nigeria, others for fraud

Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests 74 in US, Nigeria, others for fraud

The Omaha FBI office announced Monday that over the past two years, Operation WireWire has resulted in the indictment of eight individuals involved in email schemes to compromise businesses.

Domestically, the Feds said they teamed up with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury and the US Postal Inspection Service in a six-month program which began in January and resulted in a fortnight of "law enforcement activity".

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The US said arrests occurred in the US, Nigeria, Canada, Mauritius and Poland.

"The operation also resulted in the seizure of almost $2.4m, and the disruption and recovery of approximately $14m in fraudulent wire transfers", the statement said. This "cyber-enabled financial fraud" - which originated in Nigeria, the same source of the notorious Nigerian prince email scams - fools victims into believing they're sending money to business partners, while they're really giving thousands of dollars away to thieves.

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"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. The scammers may also target personally identifiable information or employee tax records in addition to money. The fraudsters send emails that appear to be from trusted corporate executives or vendors, which instruct targeted employees to wire funds to accounts controlled by criminals. The fraudsters often "enlist and manipulate the money mules through romance scams or "work-at-home" scams", it adds.

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. While several people were caught and indicted in this one case, there is no indication that they arrested the mastermind behind the scheme or even know who the mastermind is.

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"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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