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The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, Monday, said it had arrested 74 ’email scammers’, 29 of them Nigerians in a global operation.

The bureau also said the criminal scheme, which was used by the suspects, originated from Nigeria.

The FBI said 42 suspects were nabbed in the U.S., 29 in Nigeria, and three others in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland.

Some of those arrested were working as part of a larger network of criminal organisations, while others acted alone, the bureau said.

In a statement published on the agency’s website, it said, the operation was a coordinated effort by the federal authorities including the Department of Justice and the FBI aimed at intercepting illegal wire transfers from businesses and individuals across the globe.

The statement on Monday by the DoJ reads in full:

Federal authorities announced today a significant coordinated effort to disrupt Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes that are designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals, including many senior citizens.

Operation Wire Wire, a coordinated law enforcement effort by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, was conducted over a six month period, culminating in over two weeks of intensified law enforcement activity resulting in 74 arrests in the United States and overseas, including 29 in Nigeria, and 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.

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 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. And so I want to thank the FBI, nearly a dozen U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Secret Service, Postal Inspection Services, Homeland Security Investigations, the Treasury Department, our partners in Nigeria, Poland, Canada, Mauritius, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and our state and local law enforcement partners for all of their hard work. We will continue to go on offense against fraudsters so that the American people can have safety and peace of mind.”

“This operation demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises that target American citizens and their businesses,” said FBI Director Christopher A. Wray.

“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. The public we serve deserves nothing less.”

“The Secret Service remains committed to aggressively investigating and pursuing those responsible for cyber-enabled financial crimes,” said U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles. “Although the explosive expansion of the cyber domain has forced us to develop innovative ways of conducting these types of investigations, our proven model remains the same.”

“FinCEN has been a leader in the fight against BEC and other cyber-enabled crime,” said FinCEN Director Kenneth A. Blanco. “Since 2014, working with our domestic and international partners, our Rapid Response Program has helped recover over $350 million stolen from innocent Americans. We must continue to be smarter, quicker, and better than the criminals that we face every day. Today’s action is a victory, but it will take vigilance, time, and resources to take this fight into the future. In defense of the victims of these crimes, we are ready for the challenge.”

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has a long history of successfully investigating complex fraud and corruption cases,” said Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell.

“We are proud to work alongside our fellow law enforcement partners in major efforts, such as Operation Wire Wire, to target those individuals who take advantage of the American public for illegal profits. Anyone who engages in deceptive practices like this should know they will not go undetected and will be held accountable, regardless of where they are. Postal Inspectors will continue to work tirelessly to protect our customers from 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.

Money mules may be witting or unwitting accomplices who receive ill-gotten funds from the victims and then transfer the funds as directed by the fraudsters. The money is wired or sent by check to the money mule who then deposits it in his or her own bank account. Usually the mules keep a fraction for “their trouble” and then wire the money as directed by the fraudster. The fraudsters enlist and manipulate the money mules through romance scams or “work-at-home” scams.

Starting in January 2018, this coordinated enforcement action targeted hundreds of BEC scammers. In addition, law enforcement agents executed over 51 domestic actions including search warrants, money mule warning letters, and asset seizure warrants totaling nearly $1 million. Local and state law enforcement partners on FBI task forces across the country, with the assistance of multiple District Attorney’s Offices, charged 15 alleged money mules for their role in defrauding victims. These money mules were employed by the fraudsters to launder their ill-gotten gains by draining the funds into other accounts that are difficult to trace.

Among those arrested on federal charges in BEC schemes include:

Following an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service, 23 individuals were charged in the Southern District of Florida with laundering at least $10 million from proceeds of BEC scams, including eight people charged in an indictment unsealed last week in Miami. These eight defendants are alleged to have conspired to launder proceeds from numerous BEC scams, totaling at least approximately $5 million, including approximately $1.4 million from a victim corporation in Seattle, as well as various title companies and a law firm.

Following an investigation led by the FBI with the assistance of the IRS Criminal Investigation, 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. According to the indictment, they are alleged to have 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. In another case being prosecuted in the District of Massachusetts, a 25-year-old Fort Lauderdale, Florida man was indicted in federal court in Boston on June 6 on one count of money laundering conspiracy. According to the indictment, the individual was part of a conspiracy that engaged in wire fraud. It is alleged that in early 2018, the defendant’s co-conspirators gained access to email accounts belonging to a Massachusetts real estate attorney and sent emails to recipients in Massachusetts that “spoofed” the real estate attorney’s account in an attempt to cause the email recipient to transfer nearly $500,000, which was intended to be used for payment in connection with a real estate transaction, to a shell account belonging to a money mule recruited and controlled by the defendant.

The BEC scam is related to other forms of fraud such as:

“Romance scams,” which lull victims to believe that their online paramour needs funds for an international business transaction, a U.S. visit or some other purpose;
“Employment opportunities scams,” which recruits prospective employees for work-from-home employment opportunities where employees are required to provide their PII as new “hires” and then are significantly overpaid by check whereby the employees wire the overpayment to the employers’ bank;

“Fraudulent online vehicle sales scams,” which convinces intended buyers to purchase prepaid gift cards in the amount of the agreed upon sale price and are instructed to share the prepaid card codes with the “sellers” who ignore future communications and do not deliver the goods;

“Rental scams” occur when renters forward a check in excess of the agreed upon deposit for the rental property to the victims and request the remainder be returned via wire or check and back out of the rental agreements and ask for a refund; and
“Lottery scams,” which involves persons randomly contacting email addresses advising them they have been selected as the winner of an international lottery.

The cases were investigated by the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and IRS Criminal Investigation. U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Districts of Central California, Connecticut, Eastern Virginia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Southern Florida, Southern Georgia, Southern Texas, Eastern Pennsylvania, Eastern Washington, Western Pennsylvania, Western Tennessee, Western Washington, Utah, and elsewhere have ongoing investigations some of which have resulted in arrests in Nigeria. The Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Office of International Affairs of the Criminal Division provided assistance. District Attorney’s Offices of Caddo Parrish in Shreveport, Louisiana; Harris County, Texas and Los Angeles are handling state prosecutions. Additionally, private sector partners and the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Canadian law enforcement including the Toronto Police Service, the Mauritian Attorney-General and the Commissioner of Police, Polish Police Central Bureau of Investigation, Indonesian National Police Cyber Crimes Unit, and the Royal Malaysia Police provided significant assistance.

This operation, which was funded and coordinated by the FBI, serves as a model for international cooperation against specific threats that endanger the financial well-being of each member country’s residents. Attorney General Sessions expressed gratitude for the outstanding efforts of the participating countries, including law enforcement actions that were coordinated and executed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria to curb business email compromise schemes that defraud businesses and individuals alike.

Victims are encouraged to file a complaint online with the IC3 at bec.ic3.gov. The IC3 staff reviews complaints, looking for patterns or other indicators of significant criminal activity, and refers investigative packages of complaints to the appropriate law enforcement authorities in a particular city or region. The FBI provides a variety of resources relating to BEC through the IC3, which can be reached at www.ic3.gov.

BIG STORY

Osun Decides: Fani-Kayode Promises To Get Omisore’s Support For Adeleke In Rerun Election

Peter Okunoren

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The former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has reacted to the announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declaring the just-concluded governorship election in Osun State inconclusive.

INEC had announced that Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, polled about 254,698 ahead of Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who had 254,345 votes.

This decision followed cancellation of votes in Orolu Local Government, Ife South LG, Ife North LG and Osogbo LG.

But in a swift reaction, The PDP chieftain while congratulating the party, promised to talk to the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Senator Iyiola Omisore to join forces with PDP for a victorious Thursday’s rerun.

Fani-Kayode tweeted, “I am so proud of the @OfficialPDPNig in Osun. Congrats to my friend and brother, Demola Adeleke. Now is the time for us to reach out and work with others. I will talk to my cousin, Iyiola Omisore.

“He is a fighter. We need him. We must join forces and send the APC demons packing.”

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BIG STORY

Osun Decides: INEC Announces Date For Rerun In 4 Local Governments

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Following the inconclusive nature of the September 22 gubernatorial election in Osun State, in which the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP led by 353, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced Thursday, September 27 as the new date for rerun.

According to the commission, the rerun will be conducted in some of the units in which votes were cancelled for alleged irregularities.

The affected local governments are : Orolu, Osogbo, Ife South and Ife North, making four local governments in all.

Recall that INEC had on Sunday announced the final results of the governorship election, with candidate of PDP leading with a total votes of 254, 698, while APC polled 254,345 to come second in the exercise.

The returning officer for the governorship election, Prof. Joseph Adeola, who announced the results reeled out the total number of valid votes to be 767,955 and rejected votes to be 47,843.

Adeola added that the margin between the PDP and APC which is 353, and the total cancelled ballots totalling 3348 will not make any party a winner of the contest, in line with electoral act.

He, therefore, declared the election inconclusive, as he said the exact date for rerun will be announced soonest.

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BIG STORY

Osun Election Update: PDP’s Ademola Adeleke In Early Lead As INEC Announces Results

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Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is currently leading in the results announced so far by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the Saturday’s governorship election in Osun State.

From the results announced so far, Adeleke is ahead of his close challenger, Gboyega Oyetola, of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

The results below.

Oriade LGA:

ADC: 109

ADP: 1224

APC: 9778

PDP: 10109

SDP: 2265

TOTAL VALID VOTES: 24380

TOTAL REJECTED VOTES: 1186

TOTAL VOTES CAST: 25566

TOTAL REGISTERED VOTERS: 54921

TOTAL ACCREDITED VOTERS: 25697

Ilesha West LGA:

PDP: 8286

APC: 7251

SDP: 2408

ADP: 2363

ADC: 127

TOTAL VALID VOTES : 21,220

TOTAL REJECTED VOTES: 1,861

TOTAL VOTES CAST . 23,081

TOTAL REGISTERED VOTERS: 60,600

TOTAL ACCREDITED VOTERS :32,569

Boripe LGA

APC : 11, 655

PDP: 6, 892

ADC: 137

ADP :1137

SDP – 2730

Total Number of Registered Voters – 57, 397

Total Number of of Accredited Voters: 25, 045

TOTAL VALID VOTES: 23212

TOTAL REJECTED VOTES: 1777

TOTAL VOTES CAST: 24989

Ilesa East LGA:

ADC: 188

ADP: 1275

APC: 9790

PDP: 8244

SDP: 3620

Total Number of Registered Voters: 65745

Total Number of of Accredited Voters: 26194

TOTAL VALID VOTES: 23990

TOTAL REJECTED VOTES: 2081

TOTAL VOTES CAST: 26071

Obokun LGA:

ADC: 106

ADP: 663

APC: 7229

PDP: 10859

SDP: 1907

Total Number of Registered Voters: 45959

Total Number of of Accredited Voters: 22617

TOTAL VALID VOTES: 21453

TOTAL REJECTED VOTES: 1164

TOTAL VOTES CAST: 22617

Orolu LGA:

ADC: 79

ADP : 388

APC : 5442

PDP: 7776

SDP:2043

Total Number of Registered Voters: 31,904

Total Number of of Accredited Voters: 17,485

TOTAL VALID VOTES:16,157

TOTAL REJECTED VOTES :1,260

TOTAL VOTES CAST: 17,417

Ede South LGA:

PDP : 16,693

APC: 4,512

ADP : 357

SDP : 855

Total Valid Votes: 23,136

Total Rejected Votes: 1,605

Total Votes Cast: 24,741

Number Of Registered Voters: 46,887

Number of Accredited Voters: 24,888

Ifedayo LGA

APC 3182

PDP 3374

SDP 1377

Atakumosa west LGA

APC 5019

PDP 5401

SDP 1570

ADP 718

Boluwaduro LGA

APC 3843

PDP 3779

SDP 1776

Ede North LGA:

ADC : 89

ADP :758

APC: 7025

PDP: 18745

SDP: 1380

Boripe LGA

In the result announced by the returning officer, Professor Afolabi Atanda, APC Candidate, Gboyega Oyetola won the council.

APC : 11, 655

PDP: 6, 892

ADC: 137

ADP :1137

SDP – 2730

Total Registered Voters – 57, 397

Accredited: 25, 045

Atakumosa East LGA

ADC:60

ADP:629

APC:7,073

PDP:5218

SDP:2140

Total number of registered voters: 35,657

Total number of accredited voters:17,086

Total valid votes:15,721

Total rejected votes:1,008

Total vote cast:16,729

Ife South LGA:

APC:7223

PDP:4872

SDP:6151

ADP:561

ADC:136

Total valid votes = 19,998

Rejected votes=1,399

Total votes cast = 21,397

Ila LGA

APC: 8403

ADC : 96

ADP: 183

PDP: 8241

SDP: 3134

Total Registered Voters: 39,188

Total Accredited Voters; 21,124

TOTAL VALID VOTES- 20,531

TOTAL REJECTED VOTES – 847

TOTAL VOTES CAST- 21,378

Irepodun LGA

ADC: 158

ADP: 2,564

APC: 6,517

PDP: 8058

SDP: 4856

TOTAL VALID VOTES 22,859

TOTAL REJECTED VOTES: 1,410

TOTAL VOTES CAST: 24,269

TOTAL NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS: 46,558

TOTAL NUMBER OF ACCREDITED VOTERS: 24,307

Ifelodun LGA

ADC 236

ADP 2834

APC: 9882

PDP: 12269

SDP: 1970

Isokan LGA:

ADC: 56,

ADP : 682

APC : 7297

PDP :9048

SDP: 3460

Number of Registered Voters: 45,903

Number of Accredited Voters: 23,314

Total Valid Votes: 21,723

Total Rejected Votes: 1519

TOTAL NUMBERS OF VOTE CAST: 23,242

Odo Otin LGA:

ADC – 1034

ADP – 1112

APC – 9996

PDP – 9879

SDP – 2941

TOTAL REGISTERED VOTERS: 57,663

TOTAL ACCREDITED VOTERS: 27,051

TOTAL VALID VOTES: 25,654

TOTAL VOTE CAST: 27,023

REJECTED VOTES: 1,369

Ayedire LGA

ADC: 144

ADP :166

APC :5474

PDP: 5133

SDP: 2396

TOTAL VOTES CAST:15240

REJECTED VOTES: 1024

TOTAL ACCREDITED VOTERS: 16264

AYEDAADE LGA

ADC :145

ADP : 1654

APC : 10,861

PDP : 10,836

SDP: 2967

Ejigbo LGA

ADC: 258

ADP: 592

APC: 14,779

PDP: 11,116

SDP: 4,803

Total Valid Votes: 32,787

Rejected Votes: 2,109

Total Votes Cast: 34,896

Registered Voters: 63,652

Accredited Voters: 35,061

Irewole LGA;

ADC: 249

ADP: 1915

APC: 10049

PDP: 13848

SDP: 1142

TOTAL VALID VOTES : 28267

REJECTED VOTES: 2502

TOTAL VOTES CAST: 30769

No of registered voters : 61977

No of accredited voters: 30898

Ife North LGA

ADC -94

ADP -745

APC:6527

PDP:5486

SDP: 5158

Total number of registered voters – 52684

No of Accredited voters- 20549

Total Valid Votes: 18846

Rejected Votes: 1,674

Total Votes Cast: 20,520

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