The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Justice announced sanctions against six Nigerians for their involvement in business email compromise (BEC) and romance fraud schemes.
The six Nigerian nations (Richard Uzuh, Micheal Olorunyomi, Alex Ogunshakin, Felix Okpoh, Nnamdi Benson, and Abiola Kayode) have stolen over $6 million through BEC fraud scheme.
“Today, in a coordinated action with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action against six Nigerian nationals for conducting an elaborate scheme to steal over six million dollars from victims across the United States. The individuals designated today targeted U.S. businesses and individuals through deceptive global threats known as business email compromise (BEC) and romance fraud. American citizens lost over $6,000,000 due to these individuals’ BEC fraud schemes, in which they impersonated business executives and requested and received wire transfers from legitimate business accounts.” reads the post published by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). “Money was also stolen from innocent Americans by romance fraud, in which the designees masqueraded as affectionate partners to gain trust from victims.”
The scammers impersonated business executives in the attempt to trick legitimate organizations into transferring them money, they also carried out romance fraud operations.
The crooks exploited online tools and technology along with social engineering tactics to target the victims and steal usernames, passwords, and bank accounts.
“Cybercriminals prey on vulnerable Americans and small businesses to deceive and defraud them,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “As technological advancement increasingly offers malicious actors tools that can be used for online attacks and schemes, the United States will continue to protect and defend at-risk Americans and businesses.”
Threat actors also relied on social media and email to conduct romance frauds.
“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons that are in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within or transiting the United States are blocked, and U.S. persons generally are prohibited from dealing with them,” OFAC continues.
Between early 2015 and September 2016, Uzuh and an accomplice engaged in BEC fraud targeting over 100 businesses in a single. Investigators believe that they have stolen over $6,300,000 from the victims.
From September 2015 to June 2017, Olorunyomi and an accomplice engaged in a romance fraud scheme that resulted in losses of more than $1 million.
“Ogunshakin provided Uzuh and other co-conspirators with bank accounts that were used to receive fraudulent wire transfers. Additionally, Ogunshakin assisted Uzuh with contacting victim companies and he conducted his own BEC schemes.” continues OFAC.
Okpoh, Benson and Kayode conducted romance scams and were involved in money laundering along with Uzuh.
In you are interested in information regarding BEC scams and romance fraud, give a look at the July 2019 FinCEN Advisory, the July 2019 FinCEN Financial Trend Analysis Report, and the FBI IC3 Public Service Announcement.
(SecurityAffairs – hacking, cybercrime)