The United State Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI), in 2018 arrested Twenty-nine Nigerians during the coordinated International Enforcement Operation Targeting hundreds of individuals perpetrating the Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes.
BEC, also known as “cyber-enabled financial fraud,” is a sophisticated scam often targeting employees with access to company finances and businesses working with foreign suppliers and/or businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments.
The operation by the United States security operatives was conducted over a six month period, culminating in over two weeks of intensified law enforcement activity, which resulted in 74 arrests in the United States and overseas, including 29 in Nigeria.
The world wide operation leading to the arrests of the Nigerians was supported by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
However, the FBI BEC operation surfaced online after the arrest of supposed Nigerian entrepreneur, Obinwanne Okeke, popularly known as Invictus Obi.
In a statement dated June 11, 2018, the FBI gave details of the intensified law enforcement operation overseas that lead to the arrest of the Nigerians, three in Canada, Mauritius and Poland.
The operation also resulted in the seizure of nearly $2.4 million, and the disruption and recovery of approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers.
“The same criminal organizations that perpetrate BEC also exploit individual victims, often real estate purchasers, the elderly, and others, by convincing them to make wire transfers to bank accounts controlled by the criminals.
“This is often accomplished by impersonating a key employee or business partner after obtaining access to that person’s email account or sometimes done through romance and lottery scams.
“BEC scams may involve fraudulent requests for checks rather than wire transfers; they may target sensitive information such as personally identifiable information (PII) or employee tax records instead of, or in addition to, money; and they may not involve an actual ‘compromise’ of an email account or computer network. Foreign citizens perpetrate many BEC scams.
“Those individuals are often members of transnational criminal organizations, which originated in Nigeria but have spread throughout the world.
“Fraudsters can rob people of their life’s savings in a matter of minutes,” said Attorney General Sessions. “These are malicious and morally repugnant crimes. The Department of Justice has taken aggressive action against fraudsters in recent months, conducting the largest sweep of fraud against American seniors in history back in February.
“Now, in this operation alone, we have arrested 42 people in the United States and 29 others have been arrested in Nigeria for alleged financial fraud.
“A number of cases involved international criminal organizations that defrauded small to large sized businesses, while others involved individual victims who transferred high dollar funds or sensitive records in the course of business.
“The devastating effects these cases have on victims and victim companies, affect not only the individual business but also the global economy. Since the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) began keeping track of BEC and its variant, Email Account Compromise (EAC), as a complaint category, there has been a loss of over $3.7 billion reported to the IC3. BEC and EAC is a prevalent scam and the Justice Department along with our partners will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute the perpetrators, including money mules, regardless of where they are located.” The FBI stated.
Nigerians arrested includes: Gloria Okolie and Paul Aisosa, both Nigerian nationals residing in Dallas, Texas, were charged in an indictment filed on June 6 in the Southern District of Georgia, following an investigation led by the FBI with the assistance of the IRS Criminal Investigation.
According to the indictment, they allegedly victimized a real estate closing attorney by sending the lawyer a spoofing email posing as the seller and requesting that proceeds of a real estate sale in the amount of $246,000 be wired to Okolie’s account.
They are charged with laundering approximately $665,000 in illicit funds. The attorney experienced $130,000 in losses after the bank was notified of the fraud and froze $116,000.
Adeyemi Odufuye aka “Micky,” “Micky Bricks,” “Yemi,” “GMB,” “Bawz” and “Jefe,” 32, and Stanley Hugochukwu Nwoke, aka “Stanley Banks,” “Banks,” “Hugo Banks,” “Banky,” and “Jose Calderon,” 27, were charged in a seven-count indictment in the District of Connecticut in a BEC scheme involving an attempted loss to victims of approximately $2.6 million, including at least $440,000 in actual losses to one victim in Connecticut. A third co-conspirator Olumuyiwa Yahtrip Adejumo, aka “Ade,” “Slimwaco,” “Waco,” “Waco Jamon,” “Hade,” and “Hadey,” 32, of Toledo, Ohio, pleaded guilty on April 20 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Odufuye was extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States and on Jan. 3, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Nwoke was extradited to the United States from Mauritius on May 25, marking the first extradition in over 15 years from Mauritius. His case is pending.
Richard Emem Jackson, aka Auwire, 23, of Lagos, Nigeria, was charged in an indictment filed on May 17 in the District of Massachusetts with two counts of unlawful possession of a means of identification as part of a larger fraud scheme.
According to the indictment, on two occasions in 2017, Jackson is alleged to have possessed the identifications of two victims with the intent to commit wire fraud conspiracy.