The arrests were as a result of a coordinated effort to disrupt business email compromise schemes that are created to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals, including many senior citizens, according to a statement on its website dated June 11, 2018.
Domestically, the Feds said they teamed up with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury and the US Postal Inspection Service in a six-month program which began in January and resulted in a fortnight of "law enforcement activity".
Seventy-four people were arrested worldwide, including 42 in the United States, 29 in Nigeria, and three others in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland. In addition to the arrests, it resulted in the seizure of almost $2.4 million, and the recovery of approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers.
Law officials warn that BEC scams may involve fraudulent requests for checks rather than wire transfers.
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.
Email fraud is a booming business for cybercriminals, with the Internet Crime Complaint Center estimating there's been more than $3.7 billion lost because of such scams. 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.
"During Operation WireWire, U.S. law enforcement agents executed more than 51 domestic actions, including search warrants, asset seizure warrants, and money mule warning letters". While several people were caught and indicted in this one case, there is no indication that they arrested the mastermind behind the scheme or even know who the mastermind is.
Al Pascual, senior vice president of research at Javelin Strategy & Research, calls the crackdown "a great step in the right direction". If you believe you may have been a target, you can also file a complaint with the IC3.
Law enforcement officials arrested 74 fraudsters for allegedly intercepting and hijacking bank transfers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
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