•Says cyber actors targeting US businesses and individuals
The United States government has arrested six Nigerians for alleged $6 million (N2.2 billion) internet fraud allegations.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo through Treasury Department website on Tuesday.
Pompeo said the Nigerians targeted US businesses and individuals through Business Email Compromise (BEC) and romance fraud or what is popularly acknowledged and known as 419 in Nigeria.
To this end, he warned the US will not tolerate such gross misuse of technology, vowing, that the country will use all of the tools “at our disposal to defend the American people and businesses from malign actors that seek to target them.”
The cybercrime suspects are: Richard Uzor. – BEC scam – a loss in excess of $6,300,000 was attributed to the scam led by him and an accomplice; Michael Olorunyomi – Romance Fraud – losses exceeding $1 million was attributed to him.
Others are: Alex Ogunshakin, an accomplice to Mr Uzor, who was allegedly contacting victims; Felix Okpoh- Romance Fraud – allegedly provided financial materials and technological tools to Mr Uzor; Nnamdi Benson – Romance Fraud and money laundering; and Abiola Kayode – BEC and Romance Fraud – allegedly provided bank accounts to individuals involved in the scheme.
Pompeo further said the arrest was in coordination with the US Department of Justice, and the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
He also said individuals such as the elderly, women and those who have lost spouses were often targeted by the suspects, according to information received by the FBI Internet crime complaints centres on romance fraud.
Part of the statement read: “Technological advancements that provide greater interconnectivity also offer greater opportunity for exploitation by malicious actors who target at-risk Americans.
“Today, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control took action against six Nigerian nationals, pursuant to Executive Order 13694 as amended, for conducting an elaborate online scheme to steal more than $6 million from victims across the United States.”
“The six individuals designated today manipulated their victims to gain access to their sensitive information and financial resources. The U.S. will not tolerate such gross misuse of technology.
“The United States will use all of the tools at our disposal to defend the American people and businesses from malign actors that seek to target them, including cyber-enabled actors who prey on vulnerable Americans and businesses.”
Last year, the FBI had arrested 29 Nigerians alongside 43 others from other countries in a global “Operation Wire Wire” for email scam.
According to the bureau, the criminal scheme, which was used by the suspects, originated from Nigeria. It said the arrest resulted in the seizure of nearly $2.4 million, and the recovery of approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfer.