Law enforcement officials arrested 74 people for allegedly carrying out business email compromise (BEC) schemes, or "cyber-enabled financial fraud" as part of Operation Wire Wire, according to a DOJ press release.
It said Operation Wire Wire, a coordinated law enforcement effort by the US Department of Justice, US Department of Homeland Security, US Department of the Treasury and the US Postal Inspection Service, was conducted over a six month period, culminating in over two weeks of intensified law enforcement activity.
The United States Department of Justice has announced the arrest of 74 people in the U.S. and overseas, including 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius and Poland, for alleged financial fraud.
Today's statement also said that federal authorities seized almost $2.4 million and disrupted and recovered approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers. And the same criminal organizations involved in BEC scams also frequently exploit individuals, including real estate purchasers and the elderly.
The US said such scams are "prevalent" and pledged to pursue perpetrators "regardless of where they are located". BEC targets people who work with foreign suppliers and often utilize wire transfer payments, so receiving requests for money via email is not uncommon.
It said the suspects extort their victim by convincing them to make wire transfers to bank accounts controlled by the criminals.
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Separate research by Proofpoint released in February claimed that by the end of 2017, almost 89% of all organizations studied were targeted by at least one BEC attack - a large jump from the 75% targeted in Q4 2016. "Law enforcement agents executed over 51 domestic actions, including search warrants, money mule warning letters and asset seizure warrants totaling almost $1 million", the Justice Department statement notes.
"Many people are greedy, and so there will be others ready to quickly step in to take up the task of committing these frauds".
Al Pascual, senior vice president of research at Javelin Strategy & Research, calls the crackdown "a great step in the right direction".
Law enforcement officials arrested 74 fraudsters for allegedly intercepting and hijacking bank transfers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.