11 people in Harris County arrested in email scam

11 people in Harris County arrested in email scam

The suspects were arrested following their coordinated effort to disrupt business email compromise schemes created to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals.

The Justice Department coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Treasury Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to track the suspected cyber crooks, which ultimately resulted in the arrest of 42 alleged fraudsters in the United States and 29 in Nigeria.

The effort, known as "Operation Wire Wire", led to the arrests of 42 suspects in the US, 29 in Nigeria and others in Canada, Mauritius and Poland, as well as the seizure of almost $2.4 million. The FBI said it's recovered about $14 million from the scammers, and seized $2.4 million from its Operation WireWire.

Many of these cases involved global criminal organizations which defrauded not only small-to-large sized businesses but also individuals including real estate purchasers and the elderly.

BEC scams typically involve messages that impersonate a company official requesting the urgent payment of funds, resulting in fraudulent wire transfers or checks.

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.

"And these same criminal organisations that perpetrate BEC schemes also exploit individual victims often real estate purchasers, the elderly, and others by convincing them to make wire transfers to bank accounts controlled by the criminals".

The FBI said people have reported losing more than $3.7bn since it started tracking the issue through its Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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.

It said the arrests reflect a coordinated crackdown on people who convince correspondents to wire them money for fraudulent activities.

The schemes were created to intercept wire transfers from businesses and individuals, including many senior citizens.

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