Department of Justice Declares Detention of 74 Business Electronic mail Compromise Scammers

June 14, 2018


An organized law enforcement endeavor involving the FBI, U.S Divisions of Justice, Homeland Safety, Treasury, the US Postal Examination Facility, and law enforcement organizations in Canada, Malaysia, Indonesia, Poland, Mauritius, and Nigeria has led to 74 business email compromise (BEC) scammers and connected offenders being detained.

The combined law enforcement endeavor – known as Operation Wire Wire – was carried out over a duration of 6 months with most of the detentions made in the last two weeks of the operation.  42 detentions were made in the United States, 23 of which were in Florida over the legalizing of at least $10 million amassed through BEC cheats.  Additional 29 detentions were made in Nigeria, and nine in Mauritius, Canada, and Poland. Roughly $14 million in fake wire transfers was interrupted and recovered, and nearly $2.4 million was apprehended.

BEC is among the most common and profitable kinds of phishing attack. It is a modern type of phishing that needs time and planning, with the sufferers carefully examined.  Access to a high-level manager’s electronic mail account is gained, generally via a spear phishing promotion. That electronic mail account is then used to transmit messages to accounts and payroll staff accountable for making wire transmissions. Those people are persuaded to send fake wire transfers to accounts operated by offenders. In some instances, access to electronic mail accounts is not gained, and electronic mail accounts are just tricked.

Those transfers are frequently of the order of tens of thousands of dollars, even though some cheats have seen transmissions of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars sent to the cheaters’ accounts. One of the arrests linked to a Seattle company that was cheated out of $1.4 million.

Users are also targeted and are persuaded to make wire transmissions or send checks to the cheaters – romance cheats are usual, as are job opportunity cheats, online automobile purchase cheats, rental cheats, and lottery cheats.

The cheaters are generally part of big international cybercriminal groups, several of which began in Nigeria and have spread throughout the world. Tackling these groups needs an organized effort involving law enforcement organizations in several countries.

“This operation shows the FBI’s dedication to interrupt and dismantle illegal companies that target American people and their companies,” stated FBI Director Christopher A. Wray. “We will carry on to work together with our law enforcement associates throughout the world to end these fraud systems and safeguard the hard-earned assets of our people. The public we help merits nothing less.”

Although it is definitely good news to hear that a lot of scammers have been brought to justice, BEC attacks lead to billions of dollars of losses and just a tiny portion of those losses have been regained. It is not likely that these criminal bands have experienced main interruptions as a consequence of the arrests, and the offenders running these bands are likely to still be at large. Additionally, there is likely to be an availability of people wishing to take the place of those detained, given the rewarding nature of the cheats.