FBI arrests 74 in US, Nigeria, others for fraud

A massive global operation by the US Department of Justice, US Department of Homeland Security, US Department of the Treasury and the US Postal Inspection Service has disrupted activities of a financial fraud ring which operated out of several countries including the US and Canada.

The criminal organisation had been involved in business email compromise(BEC) schemes
designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals, including many senior citizens, according to a statement on its website dated June 11, 2018.

BEC, also known as ‘cyber-enabled financial fraud,’ is a sophisticated scam that targets employees with access to the finances of companies and/or businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments.

The coordinated operation, dubbed Operation Wire Wire, resulted in the arrest of 74 people in the US, 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius and Poland.

“The operation also resulted in the seizure of nearly $2.4m, and the disruption and recovery of approximately $14m in fraudulent wire transfers,” the statement said.

According to the statement, the same criminal organisation 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.

It said, “Foreign citizens perpetrate many BEC scams. Those individuals are often members of transnational criminal organisations, which originated in Nigeria but have spread throughout the world."

FBI Director, Christopher Wray said the operation demonstrated the bureau’s drive and determination to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises targeting American citizens and their businesses.

“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,” he added.

The US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, expressed gratitude for the outstanding efforts and cooperation of law enforcement agencies in participating countries helping to curb BEC schemes that defraud businesses and individuals.

Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was part of the coordinated operation.

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