Federal authorities announced Monday that they had "disrupted" what they call "Business Email Compromise" schemes, which involve a malicious actor sending a phishing email and somehow convincing employees with access to a company's financial credentials to transfer money fraudulently.
Named Operation WireWire, several federal authorities were involved to disrupt worldwide BEC schemes, including the FBI, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury, and the US Postal Inspection Service.
The US said arrests occurred in the US, Nigeria, Canada, Mauritius and Poland.
"The operation also resulted in the seizure of almost $2.4m, and the disruption and recovery of approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers, " a statement by the U.S. department of justice said. And the same criminal organizations involved in BEC scams also frequently exploit individuals, including real estate purchasers and the elderly.
Other individuals fell victim to classic romance and lottery scams, and on some occasions, the perpetrators asked for sensitive information, such as tax records, instead of cash.
A number of the cases that resulted in arrests involved global criminal organizations that defrauded small to large-sized businesses, while others involved individual victims who transferred large amounts of money or sensitive records in the course of business, according to the Justice Department. The fraudsters send emails that appear to be from trusted corporate executives or vendors, which instruct targeted employees to wire funds to accounts controlled by criminals.
It culminated in more than two weeks of intensified law enforcement activity resulting in 73 arrests in the USA and overseas, primarily in Nigeria, and the recovery or seizure of about $6 million.
It said the arrests reflect a coordinated crackdown on people who convince correspondents to wire them money for fraudulent activities.
If you believe you've fallen victim to a scam, you can report it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation here.
I suspect these arrests will force BEC to shift further overseas, and if so, the cooperation across jurisdictions will be a necessary example to follow if law enforcement and banks wants to keep up the pressure.