The U.S. Justice Department has announced charges against 80 people, most of them Nigerians, in a wide-ranging fraud and money laundering operation that netted millions of dollars from victims of internet con jobs, as reported on Thursday (Aug. 22).
More than a dozen people were arrested during raids, Thom Mrozek, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, told the news outlet. Most arrests were in the Los Angeles area.
Dozens of indictments were unsealed by federal prosecutors after the 17 people were arrested and taken into custody in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States. Most of the remainder of those indicted were believed to be in Nigeria, the DOJ said.
The suspects allegedly targeted the lovelorn, the elderly and small and large businesses, using a variety of scams to persuade their victims to send money over the internet.
"Some of the victims of the conspiracy lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fraud schemes, and many were elderly," the Justice Department said.
The indictment alleges that at least $6 million in fraudulently obtained funds were transferred through a money-laundering network run by two Nigerians who were arrested: Valentine Iro, 33, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38.
"Billions of dollars are lost annually, and we urge citizens to be aware of these sophisticated financial schemes to protect themselves or their businesses from becoming unsuspecting victims," said Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office.
The U.S. Justice Department has indicted dozens of individuals accused of involvement in a massive business email scam and money laundering scheme.
The 145-page indictment, which was unsealed Thursday (Aug. 22), said the 80 named individuals are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft and money laundering.
It was not immediately known whether the Nigerian nationals will be extradited to the U.S., however, a treaty exists between the two nations, making extraditions possible.