Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests 29 Nigerians for alleged internet fraud

US authorities arrest 29 Nigerians others for email scams

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has announced arresting 74 individuals for their involvement in business email compromise (BEC) schemes that are created to steal money by intercepting and hijacking wire transfers from businesses and individuals.

Operation WireWire, a coordinated law enforcement effort by the U.S. Department of Justice, was conducted over a six-month period.

The effort, known as "Operation Wire Wire", led to the arrests of 42 suspects in the USA, 29 in Nigeria and others in Canada, Mauritius and Poland, as well as the seizure of almost $2.4 million.

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.

"BEC, also known as cyber-enabled financial fraud, is a sophisticated scam that often targets employees with access to company finances and trick them using a variety of methods like social engineering and computer intrusions into making wire transfers to bank accounts thought to belong to trusted partners but instead belong to accounts controlled by the criminals themselves". The scams sometimes target personally identifiable information or employee tax records rather than money, officials note.

Many of these cases involved global criminal organizations which defrauded not only small-to-large sized businesses but also individuals including real estate purchasers and the elderly.

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The US said such scams are "prevalent" and pledged to pursue perpetrators "regardless of where they are located". The elderly are particularly targeted in BEC schemes.

It said the arrests reflect a coordinated crackdown on people who convince correspondents to wire them money for fraudulent activities.

Foreign citizens perpetrate many of these schemes, which originated in Nigeria but have spread throughout the world. "When this amount of money can be stolen with little risk of getting caught, there will always be people willing to commit fraud".

He adds: "Of course, with all of the losses and only $2.4 million recovered, you have to believe that this group was only a small part of the problem".

The FBI said the suspects aimed at intercepting and hijacking cash transfers from businesses and individuals, including many senior citizens.

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