Wire transfer scam: Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests 74 in US, Nigeria, other countries

  • Wire transfer scam: Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests 74 in US, Nigeria, other countries

Wire transfer scam: Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests 74 in US, Nigeria, other countries

BEC scammers often pose as a company CEO and email requests for money to be sent via wire transfer. Even today, people are taken in by these fraudsters, but authorities are fighting back.

The FBI announced 74 arrests on Monday (June 11), as part of a global law enforcement operation aimed at disrupting worldwide business e-mail compromise schemes that are created to intercept and hijack wire transfers.

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.

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.

Named Operation WireWire, several federal authorities were involved to disrupt worldwide BEC schemes, including the FBI, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury, and the US Postal Inspection Service.

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. The criminals will trick people into transferring money, typically by impersonating a colleague or business partner after obtaining access to that person's email account. The scams sometimes target personally identifiable information or employee tax records rather than money, officials note.

The FBI Director, Christopher Wray, said the operation demonstrated the FBI's commitment to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises that target American citizens and their businesses.

The Department of Justice did not immediately provide a full list of those arrested, or the criminal complaints, but it said that, "since the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) began formally keeping track of BEC and its variant, email account compromise (EAC), there has been a loss of over $3.7 billion reported to the IC3".

The elderly are particularly vulnerable to such schemes, said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. "These are malicious and morally repugnant crimes".