Ministry of Justice announces massive arrest in an e-mail scammer case

File photo.

(REUTERS/Kacper Pempel )

The U.S. Department of Justice has nabbed scores of scammers who are involved in fraud a total of millions of dollars.

The federal authorities targeted e-mail scams that are designed to hijack transfers. In a coordinated effort of the ministry of justice, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the AMERICAN Department of the ministry of finance and the U. S. Postal Inspection Service more than six months, the Operation Wire Wire resulted in 74 arrests in the United States and abroad.

Forty-two of those arrests were made in the united states and the other 32 are made in foreign countries, including 29 in Nigeria and three in Canada, Mauritius and Poland.


As part of the operation, the government seized in the neighborhood of $2.4 million and is interrupted and restored $14 million in fraudulent transfers, the ministry of justice said.

The scam in these cases is more advanced than your daily e-fraud. In a typical “business email compromise” (BEC), the bad guys pretend to be an employee of the company. If that is the case, they are able to make payments, or access to the employee payroll or W2 information.

Foreign citizens often commit BEC scams, and the ministry of justice said. They are usually members of the transnational criminal organisations, who are originally from Nigeria, but are scattered all over the world.

“Fraudsters can rob people of their life savings in a matter of minutes,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “These are malicious and morally repulsive crimes,” he added.

Since the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center started tracking of BEC and other variants of this kind of e-mails, there is a loss of more than $3.7 billion reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.


Trust factor

Criminals usually try to mimic, managers, people in the real estate sector, human resources, and law firms. But generally, they pretend to represent all of the trusted entity, including the major banks or credit card companies.

The trust factor is what makes this kind of scam so dangerous. “Barracuda has intercepted many of the advanced BEC attempts,” Asaf Cidon, VP e-Mail Security on security, networking and storage company Barracuda Networks, told Fox News.

Cidon added: “The intersection of phishing attacks involve stealing the data of an employee, and sending e-mails on behalf of that employee to go crazy for other employees or external employees, so that the e-mail seems to be coming from a completely legitimate e-mail address.”

These criminals even after individuals such as the elderly. “The same criminal organizations that commit BEC also exploit the individual victims, often for real estate buyers, the elderly…by to convince them to make transfers to bank accounts controlled by the criminals,” the u.s. department of justice said in a statement.

The so-called “money mules” may also be involved in these scams, either willingly or unwillingly. The money is sent to the mules, which then deposit their own bank account, the justice department said. Mules are usually only a fraction of the money for their participation in the crime.


Among those arrested on federal charges include:

  • A total of 23 people were charged in the Southern District of Florida with the laundering of at least $ 10 million from the proceeds of BEC scams.
  • Gloria Okolie and Paul Aisosa, both Nigerian nationals in Dallas. They are supposedly “the victim of a real estate closing lawyer by sending the lawyer an e-mail spoofing posing as the seller, and requesting that the proceeds of a property sale in the amount of $246,000 be connected to Okolie account’. They are responsible for the laundering of approximately $665,000 in illegal funds.
  • Adeyemi Odufuye aka “Micky,” “Micky Bricks,” “Yemi,” “IMP,” “Bawz” and “Jefe,” 32 Stanley Hugochukwu Nwoke, aka Stanley Banks,” “Banks” “Hugo Banks,” “Banky,” and “Jose Calderon,” 27, were charged in a BEC arrangement with respect to an attempted loss to victims of approximately $2.6 million.

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