281 arrests were made in 10 countries worldwide over the past 4 months. Countries involved were US, UK, Ghana, Malaysia, France, Japan, Italy, Nigeria, Kenya and Turkey.
Coordinated operations were headed by FBI on suspicions of groups of people stealing money from individuals and companies. The fraud involves tricking individuals into email transferring funds into accounts controlled by money launderers.
So far $3.7 million USD in cash has been seized and further evidence leads to another $118 million USD to be seized. Of the 281 arrested, a staggering 167 arrested were Nigerians. Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, who told the TodayNG news site the action was part of a larger effort against groups of suspected tech-savvy criminals called Yahoo boys.
According to Magu, apart from cash, “exotic cars, plots of land in choice areas in Lagos and a property in Abuja”.
The Scam method called Business Email Compromise (BEC), has led to losses of more than $26 billion globally since 2016. Catalin Cimpanu wrote on the ZDNet technology news website: “BEC scams were once an outlier of the cyber-crime scene, but now it’s by far the most profitable category.”
“Through Operation Rewired, we’re sending a clear message to the criminals who orchestrate these BEC schemes, We’ll keep coming after you, no matter where you are,” said FBI director Christopher Wray.
The FBI has urged all those receiving email transfers to be vigilant and ensure they know the sender and where the funds are originating from so as to not get caught in the BEC scam.