Federal authorities including the Department of Justice and the FBI announced Monday (June 11) that law enforcement arrested 74 people in the U.S. and overseas for engaging in international business email compromise schemes aimed at intercepting and stealing wire transfers from individuals and businesses.
In a press release, the federal law enforcement agencies said the effort, dubbed Operation Wire Wire, also included the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Of the 74 arrested, 42 were people in the U.S., while 29 were in Nigeria and three were in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland. Law enforcement also seized close to $2.4 million and the caused the disruption and recovery of about $14 million in fake wire transfers. The recent increase in law enforcement resources going after BEC schemes shows the FBI’s “commitment to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises that target American citizens and their businesses,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in the press release. “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.”
According to the officials, several of the people charged in the scams were involved with international criminal organizations that go after small to big businesses, while other scams involved a number of victims that wire transfer a lot of money or sensitive records during their business practices. Since the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) began tracking BEC and its variant, e-mail account compromise (EAC), there has been more than $3.7 billion in losses reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The government agencies noted that during the operation, law enforcement executed more than 51 domestic actions such as search warrants, asset seizures warrants and money mule warning letters. Local and state law enforcement teamed up with the FBI, as did attorneys general offices, to provide assistance.