Omaha FBI operations nets indictments of 8 in email schemes

Omaha FBI operations nets indictments of 8 in email schemes

The US Justice Department has announced the arrest of 74 people, 42 in the US and 29 in Nigeria, for being involved in "business email compromise" (BEC) schemes.

The operation also included the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury Department and the US Postal Inspection Service.

The arrests took place in the US, Nigeria, Canada, Mauritius, and Poland.

"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.

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BEC schemes usually involve scammers targeting victims who have access to their employers' accounts, or businesses that perform regular wire transfers. The scams sometimes target personally identifiable information or employee tax records rather than money, officials note. The fraudsters convinced people to transfer money by hijacking email addresses and impersonating business partners. "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".

"The devastating effects of BEC and EAC scams on domestic victims impact not only the individual but the global economy", FBI Houston Special Agent Perrye K. Turner said. The fraudsters will also target individuals with romance or lottery scams. The elderly are particularly targeted in BEC schemes. "Law enforcement agents executed over 51 domestic actions, including search warrants, money mule warning letters and asset seizure warrants totaling almost $1 million", the Justice Department statement notes. However, these various cyber-fraud schemes result in billions of lost dollars, and it seems unlikely that a big dent can be made in catching all the perpetrators. "When this amount of money can be stolen with little risk of getting caught, there will always be people willing to commit fraud".

"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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